Catch up on your free vaccination to avoid catching measles

Protect against measles.People aged between 15 and 30 who haven’t had their MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, or they’re not sure, are urged to get their free immunisation now.

More than 2,000 Kiwis got sick from measles in 2019 and more than 700 needed hospital treatment, while more than 80 people in Samoa – mostly children – died from the disease.

“Last year’s measles outbreak and this year’s COVID-19 pandemic have shown the impact infectious diseases can have when we are not immune,” says Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Ramon Pink. “Now is the time to catch up on the vaccinations we have easy access to such as MMR, to protect our community and whānau in the future.”

Those born between 1990 and 2005 have the lowest immunity against measles and are most at risk of catching it because a higher than usual proportion of this age group didn’t have their scheduled childhood MMR vaccinations. This group is not only more likely to catch measles but also spread it to others, which is why there is now a national catch-up programme focusing on improving the immunity of this group.

About ninety-five percent of people will be protected by just one dose of MMR, while two doses ensures more than 99 percent of people are protected. The vaccine also protects against mumps and rubella. It is safe to have an MMR even if you are unsure if you have been fully immunised.

“We’re urging everyone aged 15 to 30 years old to get at least one MMR vaccination to help prevent future outbreaks of measles,” says Ramon. “Ask your doctor, parents or caregiver if you had two doses of MMR as a kid, and if you didn’t or aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to get one MMR dose now.”

General Practice teams across Canterbury and the West Coast have started inviting people in this age group to come in for their free measles catch up. People can also get an MMR catch up from some pharmacies if they are aged over 16.

“Measles is more than eight times more infectious than COVID-19. It can make you very sick and affect your health for the rest of your life. Getting a catch-up dose now will make sure you and those around you are protected in the future,” says Ramon. MMR is also part of the childhood immunisation schedule (moving to 12 and 15 months from 1st October 2020). Anyone born after 1969 continues to be eligible for two free MMR doses.

Source: Canterbury DHB CEO Update (28th September 2020) and West Coast DHB media release (13th October 2020).

Published on Monday, September 28th, 2020, under News
Page last updated: 16/12/2020

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