Don't let measles spoil your summer holidays — that's the message from public health officials as the number of confirmed cases in Northland hit 128.
The Northland District Health Board has upped the ante in its push for children and young people to ensure they are protected from the deadly disease ahead of the upcoming school holidays and festivities.
There have been 45 cases in the Far North, 15 in Kaipara, and 68 in Whangārei.
"In the last month, there have been 13 new cases from one school cluster, with an additional 16 associated secondary cases mostly in households," said NDHB medical officer of health, Dr Catherine Jackson.
"This demonstrates how highly infectious measles is and if you are not immunised or immune then the chances of catching measles is incredibly high."
Over the Christmas break, people would visit family and friends in Northland and people should ensure they were immunised to prevent the spread of measles.
Two schools — Te Kura o Otangarei and Horahora Primary School — have achieved 97 per cent and 96 per cent measles immunisation rates respectively, which Dr Jackson said was fantastic.
She said this was a great example of the public health nurses, schools and whānau working together to ensure their tamariki were protected.
Te Kura o Otangarei principal Myles Ferris says he is proud of the work his school has done alongside the public health team to get to this point.
"With what we have seen in Samoa, it is clear we need to do more to protect others.
There are people in our community who are unable to be immunised and we want them to be safe too."
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He said his school has had about 60 per cent immunisation rate at the beginning of the year, when there were one or two confirmed measles cases in Northland.
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Ferris said there was a moral obligation for people to vaccinate their children so that the wider community was safe.
"This is a very preventable disease. Samoa is a very poor country but people there have been suffering because they got measles from people travelling from New Zealand who chose not to vaccinate themselves."
Dr Jackson said if a person has been in contact with someone with measles, they should stay at home and away from others for two weeks from the date they were last exposed.
"It takes two weeks for your immunity to build after you are immunised so it is important to be vaccinated at least two weeks before you travel. Getting immunised now will give
your children protection over Christmas and the school holidays."
People who weren't immune and have early symptoms of measles such as fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes and/or a rash should not travel, she said.
Dr Jackson also recommended infants aged 6 to 11 months travelling to an outbreak area to have one dose of mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Any child vaccinated before 12 months of age would still need two further doses of MMR.
Given the current outbreak of measles in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Philippines, the Ministry of Health is asking primary care providers to ensure vaccinations are up-to-date for individuals aged 50 and under who indicate they will be travelling to infected countries.
A free drop-in clinic is open for children and adults under 30 years of age at 22b Commerce St, Whangārei, on Thursdays, between 8.30am and 4pm.
Vaccination with the MMR vaccine offers the best protection against measles. One dose will prevent measles in 95 per cent of people, while having two doses will protect 99 per cent of people who have the vaccine.
Visit your GP, a community clinic in Whangārei or call 0800 466 738 if you need immunisation but do not live near available clinics or are unable to access one.