The local Medical Officer of Health is urging Bay of Plenty residents to check their MMR - measles, mumps, rubella - immunisation is up to date to prevent summer plans being spoiled by measles.

Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health Dr Phil Shoemack said New Zealand was experiencing its largest measles outbreak in 20 years.

"There have been over 2000 cases of measles nationwide so far this year with 66 in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes. Last year we had no cases of measles.

"Measles is extremely infectious - it's spread from one person to another through the air by breathing, sneezing or coughing," Shoemack said.


He said just being in the same room as someone with measles could lead to you becoming infected if you were not immunised.

"Nobody wants their summer holiday ruined by illness, especially measles – it can be very serious, with over a third of local cases in the current outbreak receiving hospital treatment."

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The MMR immunisation is very effective at preventing measles, Shoemack said.

"It's important to ensure that you and your children are up to date with all immunisations, and the MMR immunisation in particular. The MMR immunisation is free for everyone in New Zealand.

"Ask yourself – Is my family protected?" Dig out your Well Child or Plunket book and check your immunisation records or if you're still unsure simply ask your doctor."

About 95 per cent of people will be protected from measles after one dose of MMR vaccine, and about 99 per cent of people who have had two MMR doses will be protected from measles.

People born before January 1 1969 are also considered to be immune to measles.


"It's never too late to catch up if you or your children need to be immunised. Contact your family doctor or practice nurse to make an appointment to be immunised today," Shoemack said.