Measles update: Parents urged to immunise babies earlier at 12 months if travelling to Auckland

Hawke’s Bay health officials are supporting a national health advisory urging parents of babies who are travelling to Auckland to have their first measles vaccine earlier at 12 months of age (instead of 15 months). 

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rachel Eyre, said today given the measles outbreak in Auckland, providing the first Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination for babies at 12 months would help protect vulnerable infants travelling to Auckland from the measles infection. 

The Ministry of Health this week sent out a National Health Advisory recommending babies travelling to Auckland, or living in Auckland, could have their first measles vaccine earlier at 12 months of age.   

“We urge any parents intending on traveling to Auckland with children who haven’t been immunised to see their doctor. Babies who are travelling to Auckland should have their first measles vaccine earlier than the usual 15 months, at 12 months of age. 

“Immunisation should be done at least two weeks before travelling to allow their immunity to develop. 

Dr Eyre said immunisation is the best protection against measles and all people should check their immunisation status. After one dose of the MMR vaccine, about 95% of people are protected. 

SYMPTOMS

The first early symptoms of measles are fever, runny nose, sore red eyes and cough. After three to five days a red, blotchy rash appears on the face and head and then spreads down the body. 

What to do if you suspect you, or a family member has measles.

If you believe you or a family member may have measles, please stay at home and phone your doctor to alert them of your symptoms and allow them to make arrangements to assess you safely and without infecting other people. You can also call Healthline for free advice on 0800 611 116. 

MMR vaccine protection 

  • Babies aged 12 months who will be travelling to Auckland, or who are living in Auckland, can now receive their first measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine (normally the first MMR vaccine occurs at 15 months of age).

  • Two doses of the MMR vaccine provides the most effective protection for yourself, your family and the wider community. After one dose of the MMR vaccine, about 95% of people are protected from measles. After two doses, more than 99% people are protected.

  • In New Zealand, if you were born in 1969 or later, you can get the measles vaccine for free.
  • Older children and adults aged up to 50 years who have no documented evidence of immunisation against measles are recommended to get immunised. If unsure, please check with your doctor.
  • Almost everyone aged 50 or older, or who have had measles as a child is immune. Teenagers and young adults are least likely to have been immunised as young children.

Protecting children who can’t be immunised against measles:  People are advised to visit the Ministry of Health website www.health.govt.nz
www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles/protecting-children-who-cant-be-immunised-against-measles

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