Confirmed measles cases offer vaccination reminder Friday, 13 March 2015

Media release from Hawke's Bay DHB

Recent confirmed measles cases in Auckland and Christchurch serve as a timely reminder to make sure you and your children are fully immunised against the contagious disease, Hawke's Bay District Health Board Medical Officer of Health Dr Caroline McElnay says.
Between December 2013 and November 12, 2014 283 measles cases were reported in New Zealand, with 12 of them in Hawke's Bay.
Dr McElnay says, the only way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Vaccination is usually given at 15 months of age and 4 years of age. 
"The recent case in Christchurch featured a pre-schooler who had only received one dose of the vaccine," she says. "Two doses are needed to be certain of complete protection. I strongly urge people to contact their family practice and arrange for vaccination to be done. 
"Many teenagers and young adults have not had two doses of measles vaccine and aren't therefore protected against measles. For adults born between 1969 and 1981 it's recommended you check your immunisation records to see if you have been immunised - if not, see your GP. Those born before 1969 are thought to be immune to the disease.
"To be best protected, babies, children and adults all need to be immunised on time, every time. While that is best practice the vaccine can be given at any age if for some reason it was missed at 15 months and four years."
Measles is a serious and highly infectious viral disease that can make people sick, lead to hospitalisation or, in rare cases, cause death. It is spread from person to person through the air by sneezing or coughing.
It is so infectious, says Dr McElnay, that simply being in the same room as someone with measles can lead to infection if you are not immunised. Early measles symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and white spots inside the mouth. After three to five days, a rash appears on the head and then moves down the body. One in three people with measles develops complications, including ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhoea or, rarely, inflammation of the brain.

In the event of a child or an adult having measles the public health team will identify people that they have been in contact with.

"The person with the disease will not be able to go to work or school but more than that, anyone who has had close contact with the case, and are not immunised, will also not be allowed to go to work, school, the kohanga or early child care centre for two weeks," Dr McElnay says. "We take measles very seriously. It can be a nasty disease and can spread quickly. The only way to prevent it is to be immunised."