Approximately one in five children will be hospitalised to treat measles

The NHS has announced the launch of its new catch up campaign to get millions of children booked in for their missed measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The new campaign aligns with the health services efforts to protect children from becoming seriously ill as cases of measles rise across the UK.

MMR are highly infectious illnesses that can lead to blindness, deafness and swelling of the brain.

Considered more infectious than COVID-19, NHS analysis has shown that one infected child in a classroom can infect up to nine other unvaccinated children.

In total, more than 3.4 million children under the age of 16 are currently unprotected and are at risk of catching MMR.

The new campaign will assure that all parents of children from the age of six to 11 years are contacted to book an appointment with their child’s GP practice for their missed MMR vaccine.

NHS health services will contact just over a million people aged 11 to 25 in London and the West Midlands to invite them for their MMR vaccinations.

Measles is a contagious infection that is responsible for one in five child hospitalisations in the UK.

Typically given via a single injection into the muscle of the thigh or upper arm, the MMR vaccine consists of two doses: the first dose given around the child’s first birthday and the second dose given around three years and four months old.

Data has shown that around 99% of people who receive the vaccine will be protected against measles and rubella, and approximately 88% of people will be protected against mumps.

Steve Russell, NHS director of vaccinations and screening, said that the campaign “builds on the national MMR catch-up campaign the NHS rolled out at the beginning of winter”.

Health minister Maria Caulfield urges “everyone whose child is not yet fully vaccinated to come forward and get them protected as soon as possible”.