There have been over 1100 confirmed cases in New Zealand this year, with the majority of cases occurring in the last month. Most cases have occurred in Auckland, with only 21 confirmed cases in the Wellington region.
If you think you have measles or have been in contact with a confirmed case of measles, please call us first before coming in.
If you are enrolled at our practice and not immunised, please make an appointment to come in for the MMR immunisation. Please do not walk in for measles immunisation (MMR) without an appointment.
Infants can get their first MMR vaccination at 15 months, with the second dose at 4 years. When you immunise your child, you're also protecting the people around them, including those who can’t be immunised themselves.
People aged 50 years and over are considered immune as measles used to be very common so they most likely developed natural immunity during their childhoods before the vaccine was developed.
For those under 50, they have usually been immunised depending on which country they grew up in. Measles vaccines were introduced in NZ in 1969, in the UK in 1968, in South Africa in 1975, USA in 1968, Canada in 1970, in Australia in 1969, Ireland in 1985, China in 1963. Korea in 1965, Hong Kong in 1967, Singapore 1976, Fiji 1982, India 1985.
One dose of the vaccine protects 95 people out of a 100 ie 95%. A second dose gives protection to another 3-4 people out of 100.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is there an outbreak?
There are a few reasons:
- Measles is a highly infectious disease, one of the most infectious known. It is estimated that each person with measles will infect 15 others who are not immunised.
- If someone gets measles, they are infectious 5 days before they even realise it is measles. The first 5 days it looks like an ordinary bad case of flu. The rash only comes out after day 5. So they can infect many people during this period
- Those they infect only get sick 10 to 14 days later, so there is a lag where many cases develop unseen and in turn each person will infect others before they develop a rash.
- A country needs 95% coverage to stop measles from spreading. This is called “herd immunity”. In some areas of New Zealand only 60% of people are immunised.
- There are several reasons why the immunisation rate is so low in some areas such as access issues (time off work, transport), poverty, inequities, health literacy, and fear of side effects of vaccines
- There is a prominent internet presence of those who believe vaccines are dangerous, fueled by information that is scientifically incorrect.
- Immunisation rates have dropped in many other countries, primarily because of the anti-vaccine movement, and visitors from overseas can arrive by plane carrying the virus.
- Those under 40 or 50 years old mostly grew up in a world where measles was very rare (post vaccinations) and have had no experience of the devastating effects of infection.
Can my baby have their MMR at 6 months?
Ministry is not recommending routine measles vaccines at 6-12 months unless your baby has been exposed to an active case of measles during the infectious period (5 days before the rash came out and 5 days afterwards)or will be traveling to a country with an active outbreak. This is because the MMR is only about 75% effective at 6 months of age, and we will need to give a total of three jabs if the first one is given at less than 12 months.
Is the measles vaccine (MMR) free?
Measles vaccine (MMR) immunisations are funded for NZ residents and those eligible for funded medical treatments.
I/my child have been told I have been in contact with an active case of measles during their infectious period (5 days before the rash came out, and 5 days afterwards)
If you are NOT immunized:
You need to enter into quarantine from 7 days after the first day you were in contact with the case, and stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact with the infected person ie a full two weeks. After your quarantine period is over and you remain well, please book in for an immunisation.
IF YOUR CHILD THAT HAS HAD A MEASLES CONTACT DURING THE INFECTIOUS PERIOD IS LESS THAN ONE YEAR OLD OR IS IMMUNOCOMPROMISED (have a weak immune system eg have cancer, on immunosupressant treatment such as chemotherapy, oral steroids etc) PLEASE CALL US FOR ADVICE.
If you ARE immunized:
You are safe, you cannot spread the illness to others, and do not need to enter into quarantine.
My doctor has said I may have measles. What do I do?
Unfortunately there is no specific treatment for measles. Here is some more information about this illness. Things that can help are bed rest in a quiet dark room, paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain/fever, drinking lots of fluids, wiping the eyes gently with wet cotton wool or a soft facecloth. If you have concerns about these symptoms please call us, do not break quarantine:
· trouble breathing
· stiff neck
· feeling drowsy or you cannot wake them up
· coughing up green or yellow thick mucous
· back pain
· sore ears
· having a fit (seizure)
· not passing urine for 10 hours.
How dangerous is measles?
Thankfully nobody has died yet during this outbreak. Measles has a mortality rate of 1-2/1000 people infected. 1/10 people infected will need hospital admission for complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis. Babies and small children with lowered immunity have a 50% mortality from measles. In the 1991 outbreak of measles in NZ, there were around 7000 cases of measles and 7 deaths.
I have heard that the measles vaccine (MMR) causes autism
Years ago there was a paper published claiming the MMR caused autism, which has since been found to be untrue and withdrawn, and the author Dr Wakefield was found guilty of ethical, medical, and scientific misconduct and his medical license was cancelled. Additional studies showed that the data presented were fraudulent. There is no evidence that this vaccine causes autism
I have heard that the measles vaccine (MMR) contains mercury
The MMR does not contain mercury.
I am pregnant/trying to get pregnant. Can I have the measles vaccine (MMR)?
Unfortunately it is not safe to have this vaccine whilst you are pregnant, or if you are not using contraception and may be pregnant. This is because the vaccine is a weakened live virus and will pass to the fetus and may cause harm. We recommend that you use contraception for a month and have a negative pregnancy test before we give you this vaccine. In addition, we recommend that you do not fall pregnant for one month after this vaccine is given.
I am on immunosupressant medication. Can I have the vaccine?
No this virus is a weakened live virus and may harm you if you are on any of these medications.