ONE in six East Lancashire children are still not being immunised against measles, new figures reveal.

Uptake of the combined MMR vaccine is just 83 per cent across the region - way below the 95 per cent rate experts say is needed to ensure everyone is protected from measles.

Recent outbreaks of measles in Blackpool and Manchester have prompted health chiefs to remind parents of the importance of the injections, and to reiterate that there is no evidence to link the combined injection to any health problems.

Blackburn with Darwen Primary Care Trust’s director of public health Mike Leaf said: “We can make a link between the rise in cases and low uptake of the MMR vaccination, and this really underlines the importance of the MMR vaccination in protecting our children.

“We need to make sure that our children have the protection they need and the MMR vaccination is the best defence against this very contagious disease.”

The MMR vaccine is given in two doses, one before age two and another by age five. Ideally children should have had both doses of the MMR vaccination by age five but health experts are stressing that it is never too late to immunize a child or young person who missed out earlier in life.

The figures for East Lancashire are in line with national averages - uptake rates have slowly been recovering since Dr Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 study linking the jabs with autism was discredited, following a 2004 General Medical Council inquiry.

But the England average is pulled down by still-low uptake throughout London, where more than one in four children do not have the injections, and many primary care trusts across the UK are hitting immunisation rates of more than 90 per cent.

Before the publication of Dr Wakefield’s research in medical journal Lancet, take-up throughout England was above 90 per cent.