Protected? Back-to-school prompts measles vaccine reminder

Press Release – Ministry of Health

Are you protected? Back-to-school prompts measles vaccine reminder

As students prepare to head back to school or universities after enjoying a holiday break, the Ministry of Health is reminding people to be aware of the risks of measles.

In the past month, there have been 13 confirmed cases in the South Island – seven in Canterbury, five in the Southern District Health Board region and one in Nelson-Marlborough. In addition, there were two cases infected overseas, one in Hamilton and one in Auckland.

Health officials are warning to expect other possible cases around the country, and not just in students.

“Measles is a serious and highly infectious disease, and this flurry of new cases shows just how easily it can spread. It’s become clear adults are also at risk of contracting measles if they’re not immunised. Seven of the current patients with measles are at least 35 years old.” says Dr
Caroline McElnay, Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health.

“Immunisation is very important – it’s the best protection to stop you and your children getting measles. For the best protection, people need to have two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations. The MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible people.”

“The seriousness of measles cannot be under-estimated, and it can cause long term consequences as well as death. Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination. The vaccine has an excellent safety record and there is no increased risk from receiving the vaccine more than once.”

People should make sure they are fully immunised against measles and be aware of measles symptoms if they (or their children) are not fully immunised.

“Having almost finished the school holidays, parents should be mindful families and children could’ve been exposed to measles, especially if they’ve been travelling, attending events, holiday programmes, camps, or had friends and family visit them,” says Dr McElnay.

“Anyone who is not immunised and gets exposed to a case of measles will need to stay home for at least 14 days to ensure the virus doesn’t spread.”

Anyone who suspects they may have measles should avoid going straight to the Emergency Department or their GP. They should avoid contact with other people, especially those who aren’t fully immunised, and should phone their GP or call Healthline for advice.

It is important to call first because measles is highly infectious, and people with measles can infect others in the waiting room.

As one of the measles cases was in Hamilton area during his infectious period, anyone who’s been in the following places during the time period stated should check their immune status with their General Practice.

1. Pony Bar Provisions, 55 Duke St, Cambridge, 17/4/18 from 7pm until closing
2. Koru Lounge, Hamilton Airport, 18/4/18 from 1:30pm until 4:30pm

If they are not immune they should watch for measles symptoms from now on for about two weeks. .

Further information about the seriousness of measles and free immunisation eligibility can be found in theYour Health measles guide or by calling 0800 IMMUNE.

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