Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

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Measles - check you are protected before you travel

Measles is a highly infectious virus that spreads easily from person to person through the air, via breathing, coughing and sneezing. It affects both children and adults.

The Ministry of Health is advising people travelling overseas to make sure they are fully immunised against measles before they go. New Zealand has had a number of outbreaks due to the disease being bought into the country through international travel. Being fully immunised prevents the spread of measles to and from New Zealand. For countries that are affected, please check the CDC website for travel updates - https://www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html.

Children who have not yet been immunised are at greatest risk of the disease and the Ministry of Health recommends that infants aged 6-15 months travelling to countries with significant measles outbreaks be given MMR vaccine before their travel.  While measles immunisation is usually given at age 15 months and 4 years in New Zealand, the MMR vaccine can be given to children as young as 6 months.  Because the vaccine's effectiveness is lower for babies under 12 months of age, if they are given the vaccine, they will still need two further doses of the vaccine at 15 months and 4 years for long term protection.  Two doses of MMR vaccine gives long-lasting protecting to at least 95 percent of people. MMR vaccination is free.

Many teenagers and young adults have missed one or both doses of the vaccine, and may be unaware that they are not immune. People who aren’t sure whether they are up to date with all their scheduled immunisations can check with their general practice, or in their Well Child Tamariki Ora health book. For those who are not sure whether they have had both recommended doses, there are no additional safety issues with inadvertently having a third dose.

This advice is in addition to any travel specific vaccinations that may be required. More information can be found on the Ministry of Health website

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