A NEW poster campaign, urging parents in Wales to ensure their children receive vaccinations against potentially fatal diseases before they start school, has been launched in Penarth.

The '10 by 5' campaign being run by Public Health Wales highlights the need for children to be protected against 10 serious illnesses before they reach the age of five.

Five-year-olds who are up-to-date with their vaccinations will be protected against measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis C, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, pneumococcal disease and Hib (a bacteria that can cause meningitis and pneumonia).

Currently one in five children starting school in Wales have missed out on key immunisations.

The Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme of Public Health Wales has developed, with the help of parents, a poster highlighting the dangers of missing important immunisations, which will be on display across Wales.

The poster asks parents whether they would rather tuck their child into their own bed, or a hospital bed, tonight - emphasising that diseases such as measles and whooping cough can be very serious or even fatal.

It will be displayed in schools, nurseries, GP practices, hospitals and libraries across Wales from this week.

Anne McGowan, Nurse Consultant for the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme of Public Health Wales, said: "Although we are seeing positive trends in the uptake of some childhood vaccinations in Wales, the uptake target of 95 per cent for pre-school immunisations is still being missed.

"Until 95 per cent of children starting school in Wales have been vaccinated against these 10 serious diseases, we cannot prevent outbreaks of illnesses that can cause life-changing complications or even death.

"We are asking parents to check that their children have received all of their scheduled vaccinations, and reminding them that it is never too late to catch up on doses that have been missed."

Any parent who is concerned that their child has not received all their vaccinations should speak to their GP or practice nurse.

The poster campaign was launched at Cogan Nursery School in Penarth, where teaching staff are backing the call for children to be vaccinated.

Pauline Rowland, headteacher, said: "At Cogan Nursery School we are committed to the wellbeing of all children and support the immunisation programme as it helps keep children healthy."

Cogan Nursery participates in the Vale Healthy and Sustainable Pre-School Scheme.

* More information on the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme of Public Health Wales is available at www.nhs.wales.uk/immunisation