Parents and carers are being asked to check their children's MMR vaccine records as London could see a spike in measles due to low levels of vaccination.

Estimates show between 40,000 and 160,000 cases could occur in the capital unless vaccination rates improve, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The risk in London is thought to be because of low vaccination rates over several years, further worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UKHSA said there had been 128 cases of measles between January and June 2023, compared with 54 cases across 2022 – with 66% of cases detected in London.

Measles is highly contagious. Symptoms including high fever, sore, red, watery eyes, coughing, aching and feeling generally unwell and a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.

The disease can lead to complications such as ear infections, pneumonia and in rare cases can lead to long term disability or death.

Vaccination is the only way to reduce the risk of measles spreading quickly in the community and causing serious health complications for some individuals.

The free measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against severe forms of measles, as well as mumps and rubella.

The vaccine is offered to children at one year of age and when they reach three years and four months.

It is important to have both doses of the vaccine, and it’s never too late to catch up on missed vaccinations.

Camden Council is asking parents and carers to check if their child has had two doses of the MMR vaccine by looking in their baby records, which is detailed in their Red Book.

If parents and carers are not sure, or if they aren’t fully vaccinated, they can contact their GP practice to check and book an appointment.

Kirsten Watters, Camden Council’s director of health and wellbeing, said: “The rising number of measles cases across London is extremely concerning.

"Measles is highly infectious and can cause serious and life threatening complications.

"Measles can also damage the immune system putting you at risk of other infections even after you have recovered.

"I urge parents to check that their child has had two doses of the MMR vaccine, this is particularly important if they are at nursery, school, college or university.”

Anyone with symptoms that could be measles should stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice, rather than visiting the surgery or A&E to avoid spreading it any further.

To find out more about childhood vaccinations, visit the NHS website