A WOMAN who lost the sight in one eye due to the complications of measles is urging parents to vaccinate their children to protect them against the infection.

Jill Allen-King, from Westcliff, has been a vocal advocate for the vaccination after catching the infection as a baby. It ultimately led to her having one of her eyes removed.

The 82-year-old is speaking out as cases of measles sweep the country and figures show more than 3.4 million children aged under 16 are unprotected and at risk of becoming ill.

The UK Health Security Agency chief executive warned in a visit to Birmingham that further outbreaks will spread rapidly, while NHS figures show Southend is 10 per cent below World Health Organisation targets for measles vaccinations in those under five.

Mrs Allen-King, who later lost the sight in her other eye, said: “I am passionate about this because measles has affected my whole life.

“I have had a good life and I have been around the world, but I would much rather have my eyesight.

“It’s not just blindness that measles can cause, it is deafness, heart problems and all kinds of issues. Just for parents to refuse to have it is wicked.”

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is given in two doses - the first around the age of one and the second when a child is about three years and four months old.

Mrs Allen-King added: “I don’t think parents understand what could happen, this is why I am putting the message out there.

“If their children did catch it they would have a poor quality of life. That can be prevented, and if you know you can prevent, you must take all steps to have that vaccination.

“I know a lot of people stopped having it when there was the scare about autism but that was false, there should be more education.

“I will be asking the MPs about why this is not a high priority in education.

“One in a thousand children would be affected by the complications and three million children have not been vaccinated,” Ms Allen King said.

NHS data shows only 85 per cent of children under five in Southend have received their MMR vaccine between 2022 and 2023.

The World Health Organisation recommends that 95 per cent of children under five should have had the vaccination. Essex as a whole also missed the target for children’s vaccination levels against measles, mumps and rubella last year, figures show.

NHS figures show 88.3 per cent of youngsters in Essex had both doses of the MMR vaccine by their fifth birthday in 2022-23.