Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says recent cases of measles serve as a timely reminder for people to check they are protected against this highly-infectious disease, especially before travelling.
“There have been 28 confirmed measles cases since the end of December 2013. All these people either caught the disease overseas, or were in contact with someone who had recently done so,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“I commend the public health units who have been doing a great job to help prevent the further spread of measles. Where necessary, people exposed to the virus have been asked to remain at home until the incubation period passes.
“This Government has made immunisation a priority, as a result New Zealand’s current immunisation rates among young children is high with 93 per cent of two-year olds having received the first of their two Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccinations.
“However, poorer immunisation coverage in the past means that some other age groups, such as teenagers and young adults, have much lower levels of protection.
“Immunisation protects you, your family and the wider public. Measles is a serious disease that we do not want to see in our communities. If you have missed out in the past you can catch up, and it is free for all New Zealand residents born from 1 January 1969.
“Checking you have been immunised is especially important before you travel overseas, as many countries are experiencing outbreaks of measles.
“Anyone who suspects they may have measles should call their GP, or Healthline on 0800 611 116, as soon as possible. It’s important to call before visiting a GP surgery or emergency department, so that staff can take steps to prevent measles being spread to people in the waiting room,” says Mrs Goodhew.
Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129