WIRRAL parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated against measles as the disease’s outbreak continues.

The warning from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) came as nine new cases of measles were recorded in Western Cheshire.

And officials say the “very large” outbreak is continuing across Merseyside and Cheshire, with 17 confirmed cases in Wirral since the beginning of this year.

The first dose of the MMR jab at given to children aged 13 months while the second comes at around three-and-a-half but older children who missed out as toddlers can still be vaccinated.

Dr Anjila Shah, a consultant with the HPA’s Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Unit, said: “Measles is circulating in the community. It's a highly infectious disease and the only protection against it is MMR vaccine.

"People who aren’t sure if they were vaccinated as children should ask their family doctor.

"The GP will be able to advise and arrange vaccination if required. People who aren’t registered with a GP practice should register now.

"If you are having difficulty in registering with a practice, contact NHS Western Cheshire who will be able to help with the arrangements."

Measles is an infectious viral illness that is spread through coughing and sneezing with common symptoms being a fever, cough, sore eyes and a rash that developed three to four days after the onset of the illness.

The HPA advises people with symptoms to stay away from school, nursery or work until five days have elapsed after the start of the rash.

Officials also say you should call your GP or NHS walk-in centre and avoid contact with anyone else, particularly babies and pregnant women.

For more information visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk