TWO MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination clinics will run in Gwent tomorrow (SAT) in response to the ongoing measles outbreak in the Swansea area.

Almost 700 cases have now been reported there, and Aneurin Bevan Health Board is offering the sessions to help protect people living in Gwent.

Clinics will be held at Bellevue Surgery, Courtybella Terrace, Belle Vue Terrace, Newport, and at the main outpatients' department at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, Ystrad Mynach, both 11am-3pm.

Those aged one year-25 years are the target group, with the health board particularly keen to vaccinate 16-25 year-olds who may have missed out on MMR jabs because the vaccine was not available when they were of pre-school age, or because their parents were put off by the MMR 'scare' of the late 1990s-early 2000s, triggered by a since discredited link to autism and bowel disorders.

"The purpose is to help protect people living in Gwent from measles. It is crucial that young people are vaccinated prior to the school and college exam season," said a health board spokesman.

"Measles is an extremely contagious virus, which can lead to serious complications and in rare cases can be fatal.

"We urge all parents to ensure their child has had their MMR vaccinations and encourage people in the above age groups who are unprotected to attend one of these drop-in clinics.

"People who have had two doses of the MMR will be 99% protected against the disease."

GPs will continue to vaccinate regularly and those who already have an appointment with their family doctor areurged to keep it and not attend these additional clinics. Other extra clinics will be also held in other areas in Gwent over the coming weeks.

Tomorrow's clinics are not intended for babies under the age of12 months, and people who have recently felt unwell with a temperature or other flu-like symptoms should not attend.

There is no indication of an increase in measles cases in Gwent, but with areas such as Neath Port Talbot, Powys and to a lesser extent Bridgend reporting more cases as the outbreak in Swansea has developed, health bosses have been spurred into offering tomorrow's clinics as a preventive measure.

MMR vaccination rates in Gwent compare well with other parts of Wales but, also in common with other areas, remain short of the coverage required to minimise the chances of an outbreak.