Immunisation – best protection against measles

MR16_immunisation-measlesIt is important to remember that immunisation is crucial for people to protect themselves against measles and is free to those who need it. You can protect both yourself and the community by getting immunised.

While no cases of measles have been found in the MidCentral District so far this year, four confirmed cases of measles were diagnosed in the MidCentral district in May last year. A significant number of people in contact with these four cases were asked to go in to isolation in order to protect the wider community from measles. Being fully up to date with the MMR vaccination can avoid the need for isolation. However, if isolation is needed, the current Auckland incident shows the importance of this measure to ensure further spread is avoided.

Measles is a very infectious disease so anyone who is not immune to measles is at risk if they come in to contact with the disease. It usually takes 10 to 12 days from contact before symptoms appear. Measles symptoms include: fever, runny nose, cough, and sore red eyes. After 3-5 days a rash appears on the head and spreads down the body. The disease spreads from person to person through the air from breathing, coughing and sneezing, and is contagious from just before symptoms begin until about five days after onset of the rash. There is no treatment for the disease and the complications can be severe, requiring hospital care. A person who has measles is most infectious in the early stages of their disease – from before the symptoms first appear to 4 days after the appearance of the rash.

Children usually look and feel quite unwell and miserable with measles. They are most unwell during the first day or two after the appearance of the rash.

The best way to protect yourself, your whānau/family, and the community against measles is to have two doses of the measles vaccine which is available through your GP or Practice Nurse. Measles vaccination is currently given in the MMR vaccine at 15 months and four years of age. If you didn’t receive two doses of the measles vaccine as a child you may be at risk of catching measles. Talk to your GP if you think you may need measles vaccination.

If you think you may have measles you should stay away from work, school or public places to help prevent putting others at risk. You can phone your GP, Practice Nurse, or Healthline for advice on 0800 611 116.

Kidshealth .org.nz says the key points to remember about measles are:

  • measles is a potentially serious disease caused by a virus
  • it’s very infections — measles can spread very easily from one person to another
  • it usually takes 10 – 12 days from contact with someone with measles to the first symptom
  • if you think your child might have measles, phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 or your GP (general practitioner) as soon as possible for advice — make sure to phone your GP before visiting
  • if your child has measles, your doctor must notify the local public health service
  • Keep your child resting at home until they are well again.