People in the Whanganui region are being urged to make sure they are immunised against measles, with the disease being eight times more contagious than coronavirus.
Measles vaccines are available across the region and Whanganui Regional Health Network immunisation co-ordinator Sue Hina said it is crucial to keep up to date with immunisations.
"Measles is one of the most infectious diseases for humans - many people don't realise the measles virus can survive for up to two hours in the air," Hina said.
"It is a serious disease that can make you very sick.
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"In 2019, New Zealand had an outbreak with more than 2000 people infected with measles - 700 of those had to go to hospital."
Hina said the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella is two doses of MMR vaccine. The second dose is given four weeks after the first and there are no safety concerns with having extra doses.
"Getting immunised is easy and free. Two doses of MMR protects 99 per cent of people against measles and rubella and around 85 per cent of people from mumps.
"A small number of people who are immunised may still get the disease. If that happens, they don't usually get as sick as people who have not been immunised."
Many teenagers and young adults in the Whanganui region missed out on measles, mumps and rubella immunisations as children, Hina said.
"They may not be fully protected from these diseases, so double-check with your health professional and get up to date to make sure you or your child has had two doses of MMR."
Where to go for immunisation:
• GP clinics (ask your practice nurse for a free vaccine).
• Schools via the free MMR school programme (ask your health nurse).
• If you're 16 or older, free immunisation is also available at some pharmacies in Whanganui (Unichem, Central City Pharmacy or Countdown Pharmacy).