Critical Need to Know and Action
|Since April 2016 there have been at least 50 confirmed cases of measles in New Zealand. Cases have been reported in Waikato, Northland, Nelson Marlborough and Horowhenua.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that affects both adults and children. Measles is more serious than many people realise. Of the recent cases in New Zealand, 7 people have required hospital treatment.
Measles starts with a fever, cough, runny nose and/or sore eyes followed a few days later by a rash. People are infectious from 5 days before to 5 days after the rash appears.
Most of the recent cases have occurred in unimmunised people. Immunisation, with 2 doses of the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, remains the best way to prevent infection and spread of measles within the community. Immunisation is free for anyone born from 1 January 1969 who has not previously received 2 doses of MMR vaccine.
How early childhood education (ECE) services and kōhanga reo can prepare for measles
Before an outbreak
- Keep your Immunisation Register up to date. Children who had not completed all their immunisations when they enrolled may have completed them by now. Ask parents to check their children’s immunisation records, catch up on any immunisations they may have missed out on, and inform the ECE service or kōhanga reo of any updates. Remind parents that they may wish to check their own immunisation records.
- Check that staff are up to date with their immunisations. Some schools and ECE services have had to close in outbreaks when staff have not been able to quickly confirm their immunisation status.
During an outbreak
- Inform parents and caregivers about the current measles cases in your area.
- If someone develops symptoms of measles, separate them from others while they are waiting to be taken home and call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice as soon as possible.
- Follow the instructions of public health staff to ensure that people with measles, and unimmunised people who have been exposed to measles, do not attend the ECE service or kōhanga reo while they are infectious.
Anyone, including babies, children, teachers, other staff, and volunteers, who is not immune to measles (fully vaccinated for their age) will need to stay away from ECE services and kōhanga reo for at least 14 days if they have been exposed to measles. Getting immunised now means you can avoid delay and disruption when an outbreak hits.
What is immunity / fully vaccinated for age?
||Not immune – too young to be vaccinated
|6 months to 15 months
||Not immune, but can be vaccinated early in an outbreak if directed by the local Medical Officer of Health
|15 months until 4th birthday
||1 documented dose of MMR = fully immunised for age
|4 - 47 years
||2 documented doses of MMR = fully immunised for age
|Born before 1 January 1969
- Children aged between 6 and 15 months can be vaccinated early in an outbreak, on the recommendation of the local Medical Officer of Health. If they are younger than 12 months they will still need 2 further doses of the vaccine, at least one month apart when they are older than 12 months of age.
- Children aged from 15 months until their 4th birthday, who have documentation of one dose of MMR given after their first birthday, are considered fully vaccinated for their age. If these children are in contact with someone with measles, they are likely to be offered their second dose of MMR as soon as possible after the potential exposure – this should be encouraged.
- Children aged 4 years and older who have documentation of receiving 2 doses of MMR at least one month apart are considered fully vaccinated for their age.
Where can I get advice and information on measles?
For further information on measles and measles immunisation, visit the Ministry of Health website or the Immunisation Advisory Centre website, or call the Immunisation Advisory Centre toll-free on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).
For guidance on managing the impact of measles on your ECE service or kōhanga reo, contact your Ministry of Education Local Area Office.