New Zealand is currently experiencing the highest number of measles cases for many years, with more being reported each week. Measles affects both adults and children and can be easily spread through the air, such as breathing, coughing and sneezing.
There are things you can do reduce the chances of you, your family and colleagues catching measles. Vaccination is most effective form of prevention, and more than 95 per cent of those people who are vaccinated do not become infected.
Vaccination is free and two doses of the measles vaccine (MMR) is recommended.
The following groups are encouraged to seek vaccination:
- Children of 15 months of age are now to receive the MMR vaccine at age 12 months, then the second at 4 years of age.
- Children and young adults (age range 5 years to 28 years) who are either not been immunised or who have only received one MMR dose to date must be encouraged to receive their second vaccine.
- Adults aged 29 to 50 (this cohort only received one dose of MMR) are encouraged to receive a second vaccine.
- If you have not been vaccinated, or are unsure if you have, you are encouraged to get vaccinated it’s free and there is no harm in having an extra dose of the vaccine.
- People born before 1969 (50 years of age and over) will likely have been exposed to the measles virus and will have acquired immunity. It is not indicated to vaccinate in this older age group.
- Vaccination is not recommended if you are pregnant, immunocompr0omised or have had an anaphylaxis reaction to MMR. If you think you have been exposed to measles and are unable to have the vaccine, contact your GP for advice.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Zealand Ministry of Health currently recommend that those embarking on overseas travel (particularly to endemic areas) are fully vaccinated with a documented 2 MMR doses prior to travel. https://safetravel.govt.nz/news/measles-check-you-are-protected-you-travel
If you or anyone you know who has been exposed to measles or is showing symptoms, should stay at home and get medical treatment. Being away from others can help stop measles being spread and them becoming infected.
There are no specific treatments for measles and symptoms usually improve after seven to ten days. If you do become sick, then taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to help reduce fevers and drinking plenty of fluids and rest is advised. Washing your hands with soap and water or using a handwash is always important in reducing the spread of infection in your home and workplace. Also wiping down surfaces, such as bench tops and sinks, with disinfectant will help as well.
Staying at home and away from other people will not only help you recover but prevent measles from spreading to other people. Vaccination is also recommended and if you need to be vaccinated or have your dose topped up then see your doctor.
Information and guidelines on measles is available on the Ministry of Health website – https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles