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Measles outbreak underscores mmunisation need

13 June 2008

Media Release

Measles outbreak underscores importance of immunisation

A measles outbreak at a Canterbury preschool is a reminder about the importance of immunisation.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can spread through the air by breathing, coughing and sneezing. It can lead to pneumonia, ear infections, brain damage and can occasionally be fatal.

Children can be protected from this disease through the free measles, mumps and rubella (M-M-R) vaccine, which is given at 15 months of age and four years of age, says Dr Alison Roberts, Senior Advisor on Public Health Medicine at the Ministry of Health.

Although no vaccine is a guarantee for everyone, about 90 to 95 per cent of children are protected from getting measles with one dose of the vaccine.

?Babies and young children are at greatest risk of some infectious diseases. Immunisation at the recommended times is the safest and most effective way to help protect them against this risk, ? according to Dr Roberts.

Parents who have questions or want more information about immunisation are advised to talk to their family doctor or practice nurse.

Two children at the Canterbury preschool have been diagnosed with measles since 30 May. Parents of 21 children who had been in contact with the two affected children have been contacted by staff from the Canterbury District Health Board?s Community and Public Division.

The Ministry of Health supports immunisation, says Dr Roberts, but it is a parent?s right to choose whether they immunise their child.

More information about immunisation and the National Immunisation Schedule is available at http://www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre offers independent advice about immunisation through its toll-free line 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) and at its website http://www.immune.org.nz .

ENDS

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