The worst outbreak of measles in the North East for 20 years has prompted urgent appeals to parents to have their children vaccinated as soon as possible.

So far this year there have been 99 reported cases, plus another 100 suspected - more than the total number of cases in the region in the whole of last year.

NHS North of Tyne, on behalf of Newcastle primary care trust, North Tyneside PCT and Northumberland care trust, has begun a public awareness campaign.

GP practices, nurseries, children’s centres, health centres and libraries have received leaflets, and parents not registered as having already had their children vaccinated will be notified.

Dr Meng Khaw, director of public health for North Tyneside, said: “This measles outbreak is very alarming, especially as the majority of these cases could have been prevented as most were in children who were not fully protected with MMR.”