12 June, 2008
Parents Urged To Get Children Immunised Following Measles Outbreak
Parents are being encouraged to ensure their children get their free measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination, following a measles outbreak at a Christchurch preschool.
Two children at the preschool have been diagnosed with measles since 30 May. Parents of 21 children who have been in contact with the two affected children are currently being contacted by staff from the CDHB’s Community and Public Division and asked to see their General Practice or after hours centre for immunisation advice.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey said the MMR vaccination was the best way for parents to protect their children against measles. He urged all parents to check whether their children’s immunisations were up to date and to get them vaccinated according to the national childhood immunisation schedule.
Children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccination, at 15 months and four years old. However, children who miss one of their vaccinations at the required time are able to get free “catch up doses” and should still present to their General Practice.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can spread from person to person through the air by breathing, coughing and sneezing. It can cause a rash, high fever, a runny nose and sore, watery eyes. It can lead to pneumonia, ear infections, brain damage and can occasionally be fatal. The incubation period for the disease is seven to 18 days and people with the disease can be infectious for up to four days before the first symptoms occur. No cases of measles were reported in Canterbury last year. The last measles epidemic in the region occurred eight years ago.
For more information about the free childhood immunisation schedule, contact 0800 IMMUNE or see www.immune.org.nz.