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Be prepared for measles

Be prepared for measles

27 March 2019

Following a measles outbreak in Canterbury and two reported cases in Auckland this month, Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki clients are urged to be alert to possible measles symptoms.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily from person to person through droplets in the air, via breathing, coughing and sneezing as well as  through contact.

Anyone unimmunised who has been in the same room as someone with measles will likely get it.

Measles can be life threatening, with about 1 in 10 people needing hospital treatment. It can also lead to other complications, including ear infections (which can cause permanent hearing loss), diarrhoea, pneumonia, seizures and swelling of the brain – this is rare, but can cause permanent brain damage or death.

Up to 30% of people with measles will develop complications – usually children under five and adults over the age of 20.

Measles affects both children and adults and is easily preventable by having a measles vaccine. In New Zealand, if you were born in 1969 or later, you can get the measles vaccine for free. 

Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki has the measles vaccine in stock.

Two doses of the measles vaccine provides the most effective protection for yourself, your family and the wider community. After one dose of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine, which is scheduled at 15 months and four years, about 95% of people are protected from measles. After two doses of the MMR vaccine, more than 99% people are protected.

If you have no documented record of two vaccinations, it is recommended that you have a booster of MMR.  If you are not sure if you’ve had two vaccinations and there is no documentation, you can have a booster – it won’t do any harm. 

If parents are very worried and want to have the vaccine earlier they need to speak to a Nurse to see if it is appropriate for the individual child.

Vaccination is particularly important if you are planning to travel anywhere overseas – to protect yourself and to help prevent outbreaks in New Zealand.

Pregnant women cannot have a MMR.

The symptoms of measles are a cough, runny nose or conjunctivitis, a fever above 38.5, followed by a rash starting around the head and spreading to the body.   

Anyone with measles needs to be isolated from the time they become ill until five days after the rash has appeared. It is extremely important to stay in isolation if you’re asked to do so, to protect vulnerable people including babies, pregnant women, cancer patients and others who are unable to be immunised.

Phone Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki if you want to see if you need a booster or to make an appointment – 0508 835 676 (freephone).

Information in this article sourced from Ministry of Health.

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