MORE youngsters in Barnsley are being vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella than almost anywhere else in England, new figures have revealed.

The MMR jab protects against the three diseases - all of which are highly infectious conditions which can easily spread between unvaccinated people, having life-changing consequences in the process.

For a child to be fully protected, they should receive two MMR vaccinations - the first around their first birthday and then the second when they turn three.

New statistics from NHS England show 93.5 per cent of youngsters in the town were fully vaccinated by their fifth birthday in 2021/22.

It’s slightly below the 95 per cent target set by the World Health Organisation to aid herd immunity.

However, it means the town is among the areas with the highest levels of coverage for the jabs in the country, despite Barnsley’s figure dropping from 94 per cent the year prior.

Nationally, the uptake rate has fallen to the lowest level it has seen in more than a decade.

Only 85.7 per cent of five year olds across the country were fully vaccinated against the illnesses, compared to 86.6 per cent the previous year.

Dr Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, said the latest figures are ‘extremely worrying’.

“Immediate action to reverse this alarming multi-year downward trend and protect our communities from preventable diseases is urgently needed,” he added.

“Vaccines save lives and are the safest and most effective method to protect our children against disease.

“Low levels of vaccination coverage matter as it means these diseases have the potential to spread within our communities, infecting unvaccinated people, including vulnerable individuals unable to have vaccinations such as young babies or people with cancer.

“We can and must do better.”

The vaccine uptake does vary significantly across the country - only 74.2 per cent of those eligible in London have had it, whilst more than 88 per cent of youngsters in Yorkshire and Humber have had both doses.

The NHS in Barnsley is now encouraging the parents of eligible children to get either their first or second dose of the jab, to stop the disease spreading.

Steve Russell, the NHS director of vaccinations and screening, added: “It is important that parents make sure their children are protected against MMR as they return to school, and are up to date with their flu vaccination if eligible as we head into the winter months.

“The MMR vaccine is one of the most studied vaccines in the world, with millions of doses given every year - it is safe for your child, and will protect them, their friends and the wider community from these unpleasant but preventable diseases.”