ONE in ten five-year-olds in a borough may not be protected against potentially life-threatening measles, Public Health England has warned.

The message comes as a steady fall in the uptake of the MMR jab means the UK has now lost its measles-free status, just three years after the virus was eliminated.

Currently, only 90.2 per cent of children in Blackburn with Darwen have had the second dose of the vaccine, above the North West average, while 93.4 per cent have had the first dose.

The MMR vaccine comes in two stages: one dose given to infants around one-year-old and a second when the child is at around 3 years and 4 months old.

Across the first quarter of 2019 there were 231 confirmed cases of the virus in the country.

The health body released the figures ahead of the new school year and urged parents to check whether their child or children are fully protected.

Angela Hardman, deputy director of health protection at PHE North West, said the figures were concerning.

Ms Hardman said: “It’s a real concern that so many young children could be starting school without the full protection that the NHS childhood immunisation programme offers for free.

"We know that parents want the best protection for their children and so many may be unaware that their child is not up-to-date.

She urged all parents of primary school starters to check their child’s red book to make sure there is a record of two MMR doses and the four-in-one booster vaccine.

If they did not have this, she said parents should contact their GP practice to arrange any further vaccinations that are needed.

She added: "We’re particularly concerned about children being at greater risk of measles.

"We’re continuing to see outbreaks of the disease occurring in communities across the country, many linked to visiting European countries over the summer holidays. "

"The vast majority of those affected are not fully immunised and vaccine preventable diseases spread more easily in schools.

"It’s crucial that children have maximum protection as they begin to mix with other children at the start of their school journey. "