2019/20 measles outbreak information

Last updated 11:00 am,  29 January 2020

On this page you will find information on immunisation, vaccine guidelines, travelling and more.

The current national priorities for MMR vaccination are:

  • ensure all children receive their vaccinations on time at 15 months (12 months in Auckland) and four years to maintain the national Childhood Immunisation Schedule
  • susceptible close contacts within 72 hours of first exposure to measles when possible
  • babies aged six months to 11 months who live in Auckland or who are travelling to Auckland or overseas to a country that has an active outbreak of measles
  • children and adolescents aged 15 and under who have not had a single dose of MMR
  • in accordance with the National Immunisation Schedule, all children under five who have not received either dose of MMR should be actively recalled. We consider active recall of this group to be in line with the priority groups.
  • eligible people under the age of 50 travelling from New Zealand to Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji.

On this page:


Travelling to the Pacific

Given the outbreaks of measles across the Pacific, some Pacific Island countries are requiring travellers to show evidence of measles vaccination.

American Samoa, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Tokelau and the Solomon Islands are requiring travellers to show evidence that they have been vaccinated against measles at least two weeks before arrival.

Other Pacific Island countries such as Samoa and Fiji have not implemented travel measures, however it is recommended that all travellers to the Pacific are vaccinated against measles or have immunity to measles before they go. People need to be vaccinated at least two weeks before travel.

Proof of vaccination may include medical records, laboratory tests, an immunisation record summaries, or letters from GPs or vaccinators, detailing vaccination.

Due to the above documentation requirements, any eligible individual is able to receive the MMR vaccine, including those aged over 50 years, if they are travelling to a country where proof of vaccination is required on entry or is necessary for protection in countries currently experiencing measles outbreaks.

In New Zealand, children receive their first MMR vaccination at 15 months (12 months in Auckland) and their second dose at four years as part of the national Childhood Immunisation Schedule.

However, infants aged from six months who are travelling to an outbreak area should have one dose of MMR at least two weeks before they go. Please remember that any child vaccinated before 12 months of age will still need two further doses of MMR.

People who are not immune and have early symptoms of measles (these may include fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes and/or a rash), or who have been in contact with someone who has measles in the last 14 days should not travel.

Read our advice about taking children and babies to Auckland.

Travelling to New Zealand

People intending to travel to New Zealand should be fully immunised for measles. If you need additional vaccination, it should be administered at least two weeks before arriving in New Zealand.

Remember, people who aren’t immune and have early symptoms of measles (fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes and/or a rash) shouldn’t travel.

The Ministry will issue a public travel advisory on encouraging vaccination for people travelling to outbreak areas.


Case numbers

From 1 January 2019 to 29 January 2020 there have been 2193 confirmed cases of measles notified across New Zealand. 1736 of these confirmed cases are in the Auckland region.


Child eligibility for vaccination

Regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, children are eligible for publicly funded vaccinations on the Immunisation Schedule, and Well Child/Tamariki Ora services. This includes the MMR vaccinations, which cover measles.


Symptoms

Measles is very infectious. The symptoms of measles include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • sore and watery ‘pink eyes’
  • rash.

If you’ve got any of these symptoms, or someone you know has, please ring Healthline on freephone 0800 611 116 or call your doctor. It’s really important you stay home, but if you do go to the doctor, please phone before visiting, as they can help you avoid the waiting room so you don’t infect other patients. There’s more important measles advice further down this page.


Babies

We know measles is worrying for everyone, especially for parents and whānau of babies and young children. Babies born to mums who are immune will have some of this protection passed on because antibodies are transferred from mother to baby, giving baby some immunity for those early months.

The best protection for very young children is to ensure that whānau, carers, and other people around them are vaccinated. If you have a Plunket or Well Child Tamariki Ora book, it should record if you’ve been immunised against measles. Unimmunised people who might have been in contact with someone who has measles should take a cautious approach when interacting with babies.

Babies and children travelling to Auckland

People with babies aged 6–11 months and who live outside of Auckland, but are planning to travel to the region, should consider vaccinating their infant at least two weeks before travelling. 

If an infant is vaccinated under 12 months, they’ll need two more doses of MMR vaccine when they’re 15 months and 4 years old.

Make sure children aged under 5 are immunised two weeks before travelling to places with serious measles outbreaks, including Auckland.


Pregnancy and MMR vaccine

Women shouldn’t get immunised against measles while pregnant. If you're pregnant and think you may have measles or have come in contact with someone with measles, you should call your general practice, lead maternity carer or Healthline on 0800 611 116 as soon as possible.


Over 50s

You don’t need an immunisation as measles used to be very common, which means people over the age of 50 are considered immune.


Mass gatherings, concerts, sporting events

Although the Ministry hasn’t recommend organisers cancel events like concerts and sports events, we suggest organisers work closely with their local DHBs and Public Health Units.


The Ministry of Health is regularly reviewing this advice and expects it will remain in place as long as there are serious outbreaks occurring.

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