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Children should be up-to-date with MMR immunisation

25 October 2019

Parents urged to ensure children are up-to-date with MMR immunisation as vaccine supply improves

New Zealand’s largest measles outbreak in many years is not over yet. Cases continue to be confirmed daily in Auckland and elsewhere.

With 33 cases in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Board areas since the beginning of September, and 10 of these being confirmed during this month (October) so far, the risk of further measles locally remains high.

The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine protects against measles and is free for everyone. Further vaccine supply has arrived in New Zealand.

“Vaccine supply to the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts has been sufficient for us to focus on encouraging parents and carers to have children vaccinated with MMR on time at 15 months and 4 years, and also allow earlier MMR vaccination of infants travelling overseas or to Auckland,” says Dr Jim Miller, Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health.

“Our first local priority remains making sure that young children get their MMR on time at 15 months and 4 years. Older children (up to 15 years) who have not had at least one dose can now also be vaccinated,” says Dr Miller.

Dr Miller’s message to parents and care givers is twofold.

“One. Please make sure that your preschoolers are up to date with their vaccinations, MMR in particular.

Two. If you have older children who may have missed out on being protected against measles, check with your GP. If they haven’t had MMR please discuss making an appointment for them to catch up.”

Healthcare staff across our area have been working hard to limit spread from the cases seen here so far, but improving vaccination is the key to reducing our communities measles risk, both now and in the coming years.

“Ideally 95% of our community should be vaccinated against measles to be protected against further outbreaks and to protect those who cannot be vaccinated,” says Dr Miller.

Measles is highly infectious and is spread from one person to another through the air by breathing, sneezing or coughing. Just being in the same room as someone with measles can lead to infection if you are not immune. Measles can be serious with over one in four cases of measles this year needing to be hospitalised.

“The first early symptoms of measles are fever, runny nose, sore red eyes and cough. After three to five days a red, blotchy rash appears on the face and head and then spreads down the body,” says Dr Miller.

“If you think you or someone in your family may have measles, stay at home and phone your doctor to alert them of your symptoms and allow them to make arrangements to assess you safely and without infecting other people, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice,” says Dr Miller.

For more information:

• Toi Te Ora Public Health website: www.toiteora.govt.nz/measles
• Immunisation Advisory Centre free phone: 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
• Immunisation Advisory Centre website: www.immune.org.nz
• Ministry of Health website: www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation
• Don't Assume You're Immune website: www.getimmunised.org.nz

ends

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