Measles warning for the Bay of Plenty

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A close up photo of the MMR (Measles Mumps and Rubella Virus vaccine). All children need two doses, first at 15 months. Photo/file
A close up photo of the MMR (Measles Mumps and Rubella Virus vaccine). All children need two doses, first at 15 months. Photo/file

Bay of Plenty health authorities are warning Bay of Plenty school communities to beware of measles following an outbreak in the Waikato.

A letter sent to schools from Toi Te Ora Public Health Service said there have been 22 confirmed cases of measles, with another nine under investigation.

Medical Officer of Health Phil Shoemack confirmed there were no recent cases of measles anywhere in our area for weeks, if not three months.

"We are fortunate in that so far we haven't had anyone identify in our area [with measles] given the significant numbers just over the Kaimai Range in Waikato," he said.

He said it presented a good reminder to people of the importance of having children vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella.

Dr Shoemack said he suspected it was through fortune more than anything else that we have not had an outbreak, due to the number of people not vaccinated in the community.

Measles immunisation is free and is the best way to prevent measles. Two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is 99 per cent effective in preventing measles. The MMR vaccine is given as part of the usual childhood immunisations at 15 months of age and at 4 years of age. If any, or both, of these immunisations have been missed it is not too late to catch up.

If there was an outbreak of measles at a school, students who have not had their immunisations may be required to stay at home for two weeks (or longer) to ensure they do not pass measles on to others.

Measles can be serious but it easily preventable through immunisation.

More information can be found at www.ttophs.govt.nz/measles.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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