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Early protection from measles

21 October 2011

Early protection from measles

With the recent confirmation of people becoming infected with the measles in the Bay of Plenty, early protection is being encouraged by the Medical Officer of Health.

Babies from 12 months of age can go to their family doctor or practice nurse for their first dose of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine. “The first dose is usually given at 15 months of age, however, we are very concerned about the impact measles is already having on some people in our community and wish to protect as many as we can from this serious, infectious disease,” says Dr Phil Shoemack, Medical Officer of Health.

“Measles immunisation provides effective protection and the vaccine is completely free for children and adults,” says Dr Phil Shoemack.

“Once a baby has the vaccine at 12 months of age, the second dose of MMR vaccine can be given 28 days later,” says Dr Shoemack. “This also applies to older children, teenagers and adults – if you have missed your scheduled immunisation or you’re not immunised, contact your family doctor or practice nurse. It’s never too late to catch up,” says Dr Shoemack.

People born before 1969 are likely to be immune because measles used to be quite common but those born from 1969 onwards who are unsure of their immunity should check with their doctor.

Measles usually begins with a runny nose, fever and sore eyes. This is followed by a red, blotchy rash that usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. “Measles is highly infectious and complications are quite common. These include diarrhoea, ear infections and, more seriously, pneumonia and brain inflammation. Around one in ten people need to be hospitalised,” says Dr Shoemack.

Knowing what to do if you suspect you or someone in the family has measles can help limit spread to others. If you think your child or someone in your family may have measles; stay at home and phone your doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.

For more information:

• Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service website: www.toiteorapublichealth.govt.nz/measles
• Immunisation Advisory Centre toll-free phone line 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
• Immunisation Advisory Centre website: www.immune.org.nz
• Ministry of Health website: www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation

ENDS

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