Protect against measles

Become a Guardian of the Future by getting immunised against measles. When you get immunised, you protect your whānau, your community and future generations from harm.

Measles is a serious disease that can make you very sick. It can spread fast. But getting immunised is easy and free.

Protect the people you care about. Immunise to help stop the spread of measles. It’s free at GPs or participating pharmacies.

Not sure if you’re immunised against measles?  It’s okay to get immunised again.

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Title: Quiet Hero - Protect those you care about from measles

[Family sitting in lounge watching TV] 

[Television voice over] Among the victims of the measles  outbreak, tragically, children and babies.

[Young man texts: We'll meet u there]

[Voiceover] If you're aged 15 to 30 you could be at  greater risk of measles,

[Young man leaves house and meets friends outside. Group head along to community health clinic]

because you may have missed out on getting immunised as a child.

But when you get a free measles immunisation, you don't just protect yourself against the disease that's even more contagious than COVID-19

[Group exit community health clinic and stand outside]

you protect your whānau, your community and future generations from harm.

[Graphic - Be a guardian of the future - Get a FREE measles immunisation]

Aged 15-30? Be a Guardian of the Future. Protect those you care about from measles, a disease much more contagious than COVID-19. 

[Emma Espiner] Kia ora e hoa.

[Efeso Collins] Kia ora Emma.

[Emma] Nice to see you! Really grateful to have you with us today, I know that you're a busy councillor. And I'm a doctor working at Middlemore hospital at the moment.

So, coordinating our diaries was a bit of an effort but really glad that you could be here with me to have this kōrero about measles.

Obviously it's something that affects our communities in particular, so I just wanted to pick your brains a little about how much you know about this serious infection.

[Efeso] I don't think you will get very far by picking my brains Emma but we will see how we go.

[Emma] All good. So not that many people know this but, there is a large group of New Zealanders who actually have missed out on getting immunised again measles. Do you have any idea what years they were born?

[Efeso] My guess would be in the 1990's because I know that I got my immunisation, that was back in the early 80's.

[Emma] Oh that dates you a little bit. So yeah, a lot of New Zealanders who are aged 15 to 30 years, aren't actually immunised against measles, which means that some people aren't fully protected.

So, if the disease was brought into New Zealand they could be at serious risk.

About 1 in 10 might need to go to hospital and it can be more harmful to those with weakened immune systems.

To our hapū māmā, our young whānau. You know, you could get really sick and then also pass measles onto the people you care about.

[Efeso] Yeah and probably thinking back to what happened in Samoa and what's been going on in South Auckland last as well last year.

And that was pretty challenging for our community.

[Emma] So I think the people that aren't sure if they've been immunised or not, the best and safest thing to do is go to their local GP, get some more information and get immunised again. It takes two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected.

So, if you're not sure, it's okay to get immunised again.

[Efeso] And you can just go back to your local GP, go back to the clinic and ask them how things are? They’ll have a record somewhere?

[Emma] They should do.

There are also some pharmacies who are qualified to provide the vaccine but yeah, I think the first port of call, really safe to go and see your GP and just say “look, I’m interested in checking to see that I'm immunised against measles”.

And some people wonder, this is the most common thing that we hear as doctors, you know?

Can you still get vaccinated if you have a cold or flu? If it's mild, it's still really safe for you to do that, but if you have a severe illness then it might pay to wait until you get better and maybe again.

Have a chat to your GP about figuring out what's best.

[Efeso] Yeah well that sounds easy enough and I think it's cool that you're doing this because it's important that our community feel they can be safe.

A lot of our people don't like to go to the doctor because we're all scared, so I think this will be good, even as a family thing to do.

[Emma] Yeah that's a great idea to take everyone along.

[Efeso] Thanks Doc! I'm really interested to see if the vaccine for measles is still free?

[Emma] Yeah absolutely and that's the really important point, good for whānau to know that it's completely free and the access should be easy.

You should just be able to go to your doctor and say I want to have my immunisations, and they'll be able to give it to you.

You've done your research on this one.

[Efeso] I try be a good boy and know things but I think it's really important for our community because we want everyone to feel safe, to feel like they've got good health and well-being and good access to their GP's and their clinic. So it's really important.

[Emma] Absolutely, so just to reiterate, there are some people in New Zealand who won't be fully vaccinated against measles, and those people are particularly within the 15 to 30 age range.

You need two shots of the vaccine to be fully immunised.

You can get it from your GP, from some participating pharmacies and there are some healthcare professionals that can offer immunisations at some community events and some schools.

So look, keep an eye out for that. It's completely free and one of the best things you can do to protect your whānau and community.

So, be a guardian of the future and find out how at

Emma Espiner, doctor at Middlemore hospital, and Efeso Collins, Auckland Councillor, caught up to kōrero about the importance of protecting against measles.

[Title: Protect your whānau - immunise against measles!]

- Did you know, measles is way more contagious than COVID-19?

Kia ora, I'm Tame, and I'm here to break down the facts of measles immunisations.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that is spread through coughing and sneezing.

Measles symptoms typically begin with high fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes.

One in 10 people with measles will need hospital treatment and can result in serious complications.

The measles immunization is called MMR, and it helps protect you against three serious diseases.

Measles, mumps, and rubella.

The MMR immunization is very effective.

After one dose, about 95% of people are protected from measles.

After two doses, more than 99%.

Getting immunized is easy and free.

Talk with your local GP or health provider.

You can also visit our website for more information.

Protect yourself and your whanau against measles and be a Guardian of the Future.

In this video Tame breaks down the facts on measles immunisations.

[Title: Awhikiritia tō tinana! Protect yourself and your whānau from Measles]

Hey everyone!

I'm Metotagivale. I'm Awatea Wihongi.

We want to talk to everyone about how to protect yourselves against Measles.

So, listen up!

What's Measles?

Measles is an extremely contagious virus. All it takes is for one infected person to go to the Marae, or attend Kapa Haka practice, to start a Measles outbreak.

What happens if you get Measles?

There are many risks for people aged 15 - 30 to catch Measles, especially if you haven't been immunised.

How do we beat Measles?

It's easy!

Get a free Measles immunisation at your GP or participating pharmacies.

So Māori mā. Get immunised!

Protect yourself and your family against Measles and be a guardian of the future!

In this video Awatea and Meto talk about how to protect yourself against measles.

Why you should get immunised

Lots of people aged between 15 and 30 years didn’t get fully immunised when they were children. This puts you at risk of catching and spreading measles.

Ask your doctor, parent or caregiver if you had two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine as a child.

If you don’t know, it’s best to get immunised. It’s safe to have an extra dose of the MMR vaccine.

Some other countries only immunise against measles and rubella. So, even if you were immunised against measles overseas, make sure you get your free MMR in New Zealand so that you’re protected from mumps too.

There are good reasons to get immunised

  • You could get very sick if you get measles - You can have complications like pneumonia, seizures and swelling of the brain. People can die from measles.
  • You might make others very sick if you get measles - Some people can’t have the MMR vaccine because they’re very young or have a disease that affects their immune system. Being immunised, means you won’t catch measles and spread it to vulnerable people.
  • If you get measles when you’re pregnant*, it could affect your baby - You may go into labour early or your baby may have a low birth-weight. This can have life-long impacts on your baby’s health.* You can’t have the MMR vaccine when you’re pregnant.
  • You could miss out on earning, learning or having fun - If you haven’t had the MMR vaccine and are in the same room as someone with measles, you will have to isolate for up to two weeks. This is to make sure you don’t have measles and can’t pass it on to others. 
  • We recently had a measles outbreak - In New Zealand, more than 2,000 people got measles in 2019. 700 had to go to hospital. Māori and Pacific peoples were particularly affected. We need 95 percent of people to be immune to reach ‘community immunity’ (sometimes known as ‘herd immunity’) and help stop future outbreaks. 
  • Measles is only a plane-ride away - Measles is still common in many countries. People can bring it into New Zealand without knowing. You could also be exposed if you travel to certain countries overseas.

Where to go to get immunised

  • You can ask your GP for a measles immunisation. It’s free.
  • You can also get a free immunisation at some pharmacies if you’re 16 or older. Check if your local pharmacy offers the MMR vaccine (or check out the map below). You can just turn up. You don’t need an appointment. The pharmacist will take you to a private space in the pharmacy to do this.
  • A health professional may offer you a free measles immunisation when you're at a community event, or at school or work. See events happening near you on the map below.

If you don’t know if you’ve been fully immunised against measles, it’s best to get immunised. It’s safe to have an extra dose of the MMR vaccine.

When to get your measles and COVID-19 vaccines

The measles vaccine may be administered before, after, or at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine, without the need to leave any gap. 

About the measles vaccine

The measles immunisation is called MMR and protects you against three serious diseases: measles, mumps and rubella.

In New Zealand, children are given their first dose at 12 months and their second dose at 15 months (from 1 October).

How does the vaccine work?

The MMR vaccine works by helping your body to make antibodies that fight measles.

MMR is given as an injection in your arm.

When you’ve had the MMR vaccine, your immune system will recognise and fight the measles virus if you come into contact with it for real.

This protects you – and those around you – from getting sick or spreading measles.

What’s in the vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is made of small amounts of weakened forms of the measles, mumps and rubella germs. These trigger your immune system to make antibodies to fight the germs.

The vaccine has a few other ingredients to keep it stable and ready to go. These ingredients are in tiny amounts and also found in common foods and drinks.

MMR vaccine safety

The MMR vaccine has an excellent safety record.

MMR vaccines have been used in New Zealand since 1990.

The MMR vaccine very effective. After one dose, about 95 percent of people are protected from measles and after two doses, more than 99 percent of people are protected.

A small number of people who are fully immunised may still get sick. But they usually get a milder illness than people who haven’t been immunised.

Fewer than one in ten people may get a mild response between five and 12 days after immunisation, like a mild fever, a rash or swollen glands.

Other mild reactions that can happen (usually within one or two days of being immunised) include:

  • headache
  • a slight fever (feeling hot)
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • fainting or feeling faint (eating beforehand helps with this)
  • generally feeling a bit unwell.

The chance of having a serious side-effect from the MMR vaccine is extremely rare and would happen within 20 minutes of being immunised. That’s why you’ll be asked to stay for 20 minutes after you have the MMR vaccine.  If a severe allergic reaction does happen, the vaccinator can effectively treat it.

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will talk about possible reactions with you at the time.

Read more about vaccine safety.

Who shouldn’t get immunised against measles

There are very few people who can’t be immunised.

Talk with your health professional if you’ve had a serious reaction to a vaccine in the past, are being treated for cancer or a severe illness, or had a blood transfusion in the last year.

You can’t have the MMR vaccine when you’re pregnant.

If you’re born before 1 January 1969, you are likely to have had measles as a child and be immune.

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