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Northlanders urged to get vaccinated

Northlanders urged to get vaccinated

Measles has been confirmed in an unimmunised child in Northland this week. The child had been in contact with children from the Waikato, where there has been a large measles outbreak with cases still being reported.

Northland DHB medical officer of health Dr Clair Mills says a family with confirmed measles from the Waikato – despite having been asked to self-isolate - recently visited people living in “Measles is highly-infectious and if children are not immunised there is a very high chance they will get sick if exposed to someone with measles.”

Dr Mills advises Northlanders to ensure their families are protected from measles.

“We are following up over 120 children and adults who were in contact with this case, forty per cent of whom are not fully immunised. Sadly this is to be expected, given very low immunisation coverage in much of Northland over the last 30 years.”

This year, 265 confirmed measles cases have been reported from the Auckland region, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki and Wellington, with over 100 cases from the recent outbreak in a high school in Hamilton.

Measles is spread by tiny droplets in the air and is very infectious, easily spreading to those nearby. The first symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes) can be mistaken for a cold, with the rash (appearing on the face and neck and spreading over the body) three to “Measles can be a very serious illness, with one in three sufferers experiencing complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis or diarrhoea,” says Dr Mills.

“While one in 10, on average, requires hospitalisation, admission rates in the Hamilton outbreak have been higher.”

She reiterates that immunisation is the best protection from this potentially serious disease.

“This is an avoidable disease where there is an effective vaccine. Immunisation protects, not only the individual, but also stops the spread of this disease within our communities.

“Please double-check that your child is not at risk and catch up on any missed vaccinations.

Vaccination is a much better option than having a very sick child at home for a couple of Dr Mills recommends that the first MMR be given at 12 months while measles is present in the community. A second MMR can be given a month later, to ensure maximal protection.

Unimmunised people who have had contact with a person with measles, will normally be advised to stay at home and away from all public places, school or work for 14 days after their contact.

“Anyone born before 1969 or who has received two doses of MMR can reasonably assume they are already immune.”

Dr Mills says anyone displaying the symptoms of measles stated above should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.

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