Here are some of the frequently asked questions we've been answering about the current measles outbreak in Auckland.
Updated 6 September 2019
A) Free vaccination is available to those under 50 years of age at any GP, and there are also drop-in clinics in Auckland:
A) It takes two weeks for you to be immunised following your vaccine, so if you’re planning on travelling to an area with a measles outbreak, please wait at least two weeks before doing so.
A) Infants living in the Auckland region are advised to get the first vaccine early at 12 months, and the second at 4 years. For the rest of the country it remains at 15 months and 4 years.
However, infants aged 6-11 months can receive their first MMR vaccination:
A) Infants under 6 months are too young to receive an MMR vaccination. The best course of action if you have a baby under 6 months of age is to make sure all of those around the baby are vaccinated, and to avoid areas which are highly-populated.
A) Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended to protect the child from measles, and according to the Nation Immunisation Schedule this is at 12 months and 4 years in Auckland, and 15 months and 4 years in the rest of the country.
The Ministry of Health’s priority is for people, especially children, to get their first vaccine, resulting in 90-95% of people being fully protected from measles.
However, on parental request, children can have their second MMR vaccine as soon as four weeks after their first dose. You will need to discuss this with your GP should you wish to bring the second dose forward.
A) Generally, adults born before 1969 in New Zealand and overseas are considered to be immune to measles. No measles vaccine was available in New Zealand until 1969 and measles is so infectious that people born before this were highly likely to be exposed. For those born overseas, it is fairly similar as most countries introduced a measles vaccine in the late 1960s, 1970s or later.
A) If you’re unsure if you have been vaccinated, try and check your medical records either through your own records or by contacting your GP. If you have no record of an MMR vaccine, it is safer to potentially repeat vaccine doses than rely on memory, potentially leaving you open to disease. If you were born in 1969 or later, the measles vaccine is free and you can discuss getting the vaccine with your GP.
A) There is no need to get a blood test to confirm your immunity. Evidence of immunity for adults born prior to 1969, except those born in the USA, is simply being born before 1969. Evidence of immunity for adults born in 1969 or later is two documented doses of MMR vaccine. If you can’t find your evidence, it is safer to potentially repeat vaccine doses.
A) No, live vaccines are not to be given to pregnant women. Make sure that those around you are vaccinated to help protect yourself until after birth.
A) Yes, pregnant women can get the MMR vaccine and there is no risk to the mother or child. Maternal antibodies passed across through the placenta into the growing baby during late pregnancy provide the baby with the most significant passive protection during the baby’s early months of life. The best form of protection for your baby is ensuring all those surrounding the baby are immunised.
A) We have not been advised of a national or local shortage of measles vaccines. Some individual GP practices are experiencing a shortage and are managing this, so please keep in touch with your GP for updates. Please note that the current priority is for people who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated, so there may be a delay in getting your second vaccine depending on your GP.
A) If your child has ANY measles symptoms please phone the PlunketLine as soon as possible on 0800 933 922. Each child is affected differently by measles so our nurses can do an assessment and make a plan with parents/caregivers on an individual basis, and they’re available 24/7.
The first symptoms of measles include a fever, cough, runny nose, sore and watery pink eyes (conjunctivitis), and sometimes small white spots on the back inner cheek of the mouth.
Day 3-7 of the illness: a blotchy rash (pictured) which tends to start on the face, behind the ears, before moving over the head and down the body. This lasts up to a week.
A) All of the latest information on the current measles outbreak can be found on health.govt.nz, but if you can have any specific questions or concerns, please give the PlunketLine a call on 0800 933 922 for free, 24/7 support.
A) The first thing you should do right now, is make sure you and your family are vaccinated and if you’re not, get vaccinated.
PlunketLine is working really hard to deal with the sudden influx of calls from worried parents, and our frontline Plunket staff have been offering the MMR vaccine to parents of children they are immunising.
If you would like to donate to support the work of Plunket, you can donate here: https://www.plunket.org.nz/help-us-today/ways-to-donate/donate/
by Communications 6 September 2019