2019 measles outbreak information

Last updated 3.20 pm, 20 September 2019

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

Information for parents, whānau and caregivers

Please contact your GP if you have a child who falls into one of our priority groups for vaccinations. Our priorites are:

  • ensuring all children across NZ receive their vaccines on time at 15 months (12 months of age in Auckland) and 4 years to maintain the national childhood immunisation schedule. 
  • vaccinating groups who are most affected by the outbreak in the Auckland area, namely children under 5 years of age, those aged 15–29 years and Pacific peoples within those groups. 

On this page:


Case numbers

From 1 January 2019 to 20 September 2019 there have been 1384 confirmed cases of measles notified across New Zealand. 1151 of these confirmed cases are in the Auckland region.

Symptoms

The symptoms of measles include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore and watery ‘pink eyes’
  • Rash

If you catch measles, you can infect others from five days before the rash appears until five days after the rash appears (counting the day of rash onset as day 1). The virus is highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person through the air.

If you or a family member suspect you have measles you should stay at home and call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116. If you have measles, it’s really important to limit spreading it to others, so avoid waiting rooms and please stay at home.

Immunisation and prevention

Immunisation is the best way to protect against getting measles. Measles (MMR) vaccination is effective in 99 percent of people after two doses.

Children in New Zealand normally get the MMR vaccine at 15 months and 4 years old as part of the national vaccine schedule.

Our priorities are:

  • ensuring all children across NZ receive their vaccines on time at 15 months (12 months of age in Auckland) and 4 years to maintain the national childhood immunisation schedule. 
  • vaccinating groups who are most affected by the outbreak in the Auckland area, namely children under 5 years of age, those aged 15–29 years and Pacific peoples within those groups. 

Measles and pregnancy

Pregnant women should not get immunised against measles. 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.

Advice for those over 50

Because measles used to be very common, people over the age of 50 are considered immune and don’t need an immunisation.

Measles at schools

Children who have not been immunised or who are immunocompromised should stay away from schools where measles cases have been reported. 

The local Medical Officer of Health can direct individual students who are at risk of transmitting measles to stay at home and will announce when it’s safe to return to the school. School principals can also issue these directions themselves after consulting with Medical Officers of Health.

Mass gatherings and events

At this stage the Ministry does not recommend event organisers cancel events such as concerts, sports events, festivals or other public congregations. However, we suggest organisers work closely with their local DHBs and Public Health Units for the latest advice.

Travelling to areas with serious measles outbreaks

It's important to make sure children under 5 are immunised two weeks before travelling to destinations with serious measles outbreaks. Currently Auckland is experiencing an outbreak and there are several outbreaks occurring internationally.

Those who aren’t immune and have early symptoms of measles (fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes or a rash) should not travel.

Children under 5

If you have children under 5 who are not up to date with their scheduled MMR vaccinations, we recommend they are vaccinated at least two weeks before travel to areas where there are serious measles outbreaks.

If you are concerned about your infant aged 6–11 months being at high risk of exposure due to travel, you should speak to your GP. If appropriate, they may provide a prescription for a vaccine dose to be administered. Your child will still need two more doses of the MMR vaccine between the ages of 1 and 4 years old.

People over the age of 50 are considered immune and don’t need an immunisation because measles used to be very common.

If you have any travel plans and are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of measles, we recommend you stay at home and call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116. If you have measles, it’s really important to limit spreading it to others, so avoid waiting rooms and please stay at home.

Travelling to NZ

We strongly recommend ensuring that people intending to travel to New Zealand are fully immunised for measles, and if additional vaccination is required it should be administered at least two weeks before arriving in New Zealand.

Please check out these handy international travel websites:

National Health Coordination Centre

The Ministry of Health activated the National Health Coordination Centre (NHCC) on Friday 30 August 2019 to manage the response to the Auckland outbreak. Activating the NHCC means that an Incident Management Team has been established to coordinate within the NHCC.

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