Important measles update for primary care providers and organisations
Kia ora koutou,
Please share this information with your networks, members or providers.
With the first reported case of measles since 2019 in Aotearoa New Zealand earlier this week, please see attached the links to the various resources that have been developed to enable you to ensure our communities and whanau remain informed. Below are included some patient focused FAQs you may want to share through your practice communications channels.
- Continue to check HealthPathways for up-to-date measles assessment and management information.
- For latest media releases check here: News and updates – Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand
- Please notify the Medical Officer of Health as soon as you suspect measles – do not wait for a laboratory confirmation.
- Primary care is encouraged to find out if their staff are immune to measles. If there is measles exposure on-site, immunisation records may be requested.
On the Te Whatu Ora website, you will find:
- A general information factsheet about measles
- Poster to be put up in public places asking for people to stay home if they have measles
- Posters for venues where an exposure event has taken place to sign post potential contacts to further information
- Poster for venues where an exposure event has taken place, to provide details of when exposure event took place and what potential contacts should do next.
All posters are available in 18 additional languages
The National Immunisation Programme has a Dropbox of resources to help promote MMR vaccination. These are available for free download
View the exposure events, along with advice on what to do if a person was at the location at the time listed.
Public focused FAQs
Where can people get vaccinated?
You can get your free Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine at your General Practice, Māori or Pacifica provider and at many pharmacies.
Some pharmacies are unable to provide vaccinations to people under the age of 3 years, if this is the case in your area you will need to go to your primary care health provider for the free vaccine. Call your local pharmacy to check if they provide MMR vaccines. Or, to find your local pharmacy that provides this service, visit www.healthpoint.co.nz and type ‘MMR vaccine’ into the search box. Many pharmacies will allow walk-ins but it’s a good idea to call ahead to check.
You’ll need a total of 2 doses to be fully protected and they need to be at least a month apart.
Where are possible exposure sites?
There are several public exposure events in Auckland, Waikato and Tauranga between Sunday 5 February and Thursday 9 February.
These include a festival in the Waikato; bus transport to and from Tauranga and Waikato, cafes and a hotel in Tauranga; a pharmacy and supermarket in Auckland’s CBD.
Details of these sites available at http://www.health.govt.nz/measlesexposure
What should people do if they’ve been at a location of interest?
We ask anyone present at these exposure events to stay alert to symptoms of measles and to check if they are immune. Please follow the advice on the exposure events website: http://www.health.govt.nz/measlesexposure
If a person is not immune to measles, or not sure, then they should watch out for measles symptoms and call their primary care health provider or Healthline on 0800 611 116 if they occur. It is also recommended that people who are unsure of their immunity get vaccinated against measles.
A dedicated Disability Helpline is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support disabled people. For measles or general enquiries call free on 0800 11 12 13or text 8988 for help and information.
MMR is given as two doses. If you were born on or after 1 January 1969 and are not sure that you’ve had two doses, play it safe and get vaccinated. There are no safety concerns with having an extra dose.
How infectious is measles?
Measles is a very serious illness that can spread easily amongst those that are not immune. It is much more contagious than COVID-19, particularly amongst people who aren’t immune.
The best protection against measles is to be vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. It is safe to have an extra MMR vaccination if you can’t prove you have had two doses.
The MMR vaccine is free. If you or anyone in your whānau born on or after 1 January 1969 has not had an MMR vaccine, or aren't sure, ask your General Practice, Māori or Pacifica provider, parent or caregiver. If you can’t confirm two doses were given, play it safe and get vaccinated. There are no safety concerns with having an extra dose.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Symptoms can include a fever, cough, runny nose and sore and watery ‘pink’ eyes. These are followed by a blotchy rash. If you catch measles you are infectious from four days before and until four days after the rash appears.
What should people do if they experience symptoms?
If you have symptoms you should and call your General Practice, Māori or Pacifica provider or Healthline on 0800 611 116. If you need to visit your primary care health provider or an after-hours clinic phone ahead first to limit the risk of the virus being spread to other people. Because measles is so infectious, it’s important that those that have been diagnosed with measles isolate (i.e. staying at home unless seeking healthcare). People who have measles will need to isolate until four days after the rash first appears.
What does this case mean for New Zealand?
There has not been sustained transmission of measles for longer than a year in New Zealand since 2014. However, measles is often imported into New Zealand following international travel.
It was expected that we would have further cases of measles in New Zealand, and we have been preparing for this for some time.
Public health teams are currently tracing contacts of the case to check immunity, manage them appropriately and offer vaccination where appropriate.
We are all aware of how infectious measles is from the last outbreak in Auckland and Northland in 2019. The most important thing that people can do to protect themselves is to ensure they and their Tamariki are immunised. Vaccination is the best protection against measles.