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National measles immunisation schedule remains on track


The Ministry of Health is working closely with Pharmac and Canterbury DHB to respond to the local Canterbury measles outbreak and ensure our national immunisation schedule continues on track elsewhere in the country.

There are currently 27 confirmed cases, with a further 20 suspected cases being checked.

"The first priority for Canterbury is to reach children aged 12 months to 13 years who have never been immunised and also children and adults aged 14 years to 28 years who have never been immunised," says The Ministry of Health Dr Caroline McElnay, Director of Public Health.

"A single dose of MMR typically confers 95% of people with immunity. People who have had one dose of MMR in the past and people who have had a single measles vaccine are therefore considered to have a good level of protection."

"Additional vaccine – more than 18,000 doses have arrived in Christchurch from Auckland today, 9,000 additional doses will arrive later this week, with further stock arriving next week.

She says its important we maintain the existing nationwide immunisation programme, but also encourage teenagers and young adults who have never been vaccinated to get immunised.

"Measles is a highly infectious airborne virus which affects both children and adults. If you think you have the measles, it’s important to call before visiting your doctor to avoid you spreading the virus in the waiting room.

"Anyone who is sick should also stay away from work, school or public places, to help prevent putting other people at risk. This also applies if you or a family member aren’t fully immunised and may have been in contact with someone with measles.

By isolating yourself you will help protect vulnerable people including babies, pregnant women, cancer patients and others who are unable to be immunised and for whom the impact of the disease can be devastating," Dr Mc Elnay says.

The first symptoms of measles include, dry cough, runny nose and headache. This is followed by a blotchy rash. If you catch measles you're infectious 5 days before and until 5 days after the rash appears.

If you detect any of these symptoms, call Healthline on 0800 611 116, for advice as soon as possible. You can check you’re vaccination status by looking in your Well Child Tamariki Ora or Plunket book, or by contacting your general practice.


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