A London Assembly member made an emotional call for parents to vaccinate their children, telling how a mild case of mumps led to health problems that devastated her teen years.

Labour’s Fiona Twycross told the London Assembly of her decade-long battle with encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, after catching mumps at 13.

Now 50, Ms Twycross was born too early to receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination introduced in 1988 – but it would have prevented her later illness, she said.

The cause of encephalitis is not always clear, but it can be triggered by common viruses including mumps, measles and chicken pox.

The rare condition initially causes flu-like symptoms, but can lead to seizures, hallucinations and death if untreated.

Tottenham Independent:

Fiona Twycross

Ms Twycross said: “It left me struggling with my health for much of the next ten years and at times I could hardly imagine getting to the corner shop on my own, let alone standing in a chamber like this to make a speech.

“I’m one of the fortunate ones; encephalitis took away my teenage years but it didn’t take away my life and it did not leave me with life-limiting conditions.”

She added: “It’s incomprehensible to me that parents are choosing for misguided but often well-meaning reasons to ignore the science and not vaccinate their children with MMR.”

Her personal plea came as she seconded a motion from Labour’s Onkar Sahota, calling on the Mayor to ensure Londoners get vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

No London borough is currently hitting the NHS vaccination target for MMR of 95 per cent of the population – the level required to ensure ‘herd immunity’.

When vaccination reaches this high level, it is enough to prevent outbreaks from spreading.

Hackney, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea are the least protected boroughs, with just 75 per cent of the population vaccinated in Hackney, according to NHS data.

Residents of Wandsworth, Richmond and Bromley are best protected, though leading Wandsworth is still shy of the NHS target, with a 92 per cent rate of vaccination.

The Labour motion passed with cross-party support at the Assembly meeting last Thursday.

Bbut Conservative members refused to support it because it criticised the Government for cutting public health funding.

Conservative assembly member Andrew Boff said his group agreed that vaccination was important, but described the criticisms of central government as “a passing whine”.

He said: “You’ve used this motion as a way to once again attack the Government for financial decisions that it’s had to make as a result of the last time your party was in government.”