Doctors are urging those in high-risk groups to get vaccinated.

THE HSE has renewed its call for parents in West Cork to ensure their children are vaccinated against measles.

The call comes following confirmation that the measles outbreak reported recently in West Cork Times has continued to spread.

The latest figures show that the outbreak which is centred on Schull and Skibbereen has now affected 51 children, two of whom have been hospitalised as a result of contracting the disease.

Most of those affected are teenagers of whom 88 per cent have never received any dose of the MMR vaccine.

Measles is a highly infectious disease, one in 20 will get pneumonia, one in 1,000 will get encephalitis and one to two in 1,000 will die from the disease.

To be protected you either need to have received the MMR vaccine or to have had the disease.

There is no other way to prevent measles infection.

Two doses of MMR are recommended; the first at 12 months of age, which is given by a GP, and the second at four to five years of age, which is usually given in schools by the HSE School’s Immunisation Team.

Parents should check their child’s immunisation records and determine if they have received two doses of MMR.

If no records are available then the child should be brought to the GP for vaccination. All children/teenagers who have not received two doses of MMR vaccine can receive MMR vaccine from their GP free of charge. MMR given to a child within 72 hours of exposure to measles may prevent measles.

More information on measles and the MMR vaccine is available from www.immunisation.ie and www.hpsc.ie.