The measles outbreak that began in the Waikato in April is officially over now more than 40 days have passed with no new confirmed cases of measles linked to the outbreak.
The Ministry of Health’s Acting Director of Public Health, Dr Stewart Jessamine, says 89 people contracted measles during the outbreak. Of those, 71 had not been vaccinated against the disease, nine had been vaccinated within two weeks of measles symptoms appearing and three were only partially vaccinated.
‘Most of the cases occurred in children and young people, with 25 patients hospitalised for treatment,’ says Dr Jessamine.
‘Outbreaks such as these are an important reminder for people to check their immunisation status, and get immunised if they haven’t been or aren’t sure.’
More than 400,000 New Zealanders mostly aged between 10 and 29, are at risk of catching measles in an outbreak because they are not fully immunised. You need two doses of the MMR vaccine to be best protected.
Anyone born from 1 January 1969 who has not had two doses of the vaccine is eligible for free vaccination from their family doctor. People born before the measles vaccine became available in 1969 are considered at lower risk because they were probably exposed to measles as a child.
‘We have significantly increased immunisation rates among young babies and children,’ says Dr Jessamine. ‘The measles vaccine is safe and effective and is the best way to prevent the spread of this highly contagious and often serious disease.’