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Call to immunise and stop measles spreading

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014

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Growing measles cases are a reminder of the importance of immunisation, Waitemata District Health Board chief executive Dale Bramley says.

About 52 cases have been reported this year, including 26 students and family linked to Westlake Boys High.

Since January North Shore Hospital has seen five cases in its emergency department and there have been two at Waitakere Hospital.

Measles is highly infectious and can be more serious in young infants, older adults and people with low immunity and about 10 per cent of cases require hospital treatment. About one in three people have complications like ear infections, pneumonia, croup, bronchitis or diarrhoea.

"Immunisation is the only effective protection for yourself, your family and to limit spread in the community," says Dr Bramley, a public health physician.

"Scheduled measles immunisation should take place at 15 months and 4 years, however if these are overdue, or adults and school-aged children haven't been immunised, now is the time to do it.

"The vaccine is free and available from your GP for children and adults who aren't immune."

More than 600 children in Waitemata are estimated to be overdue for their measles immunisations.

This includes 277 needing their 15-month-old immunisations and a further 389 five-year olds who have only had one measles immunisation and need their four-year-old immunisations.

If measles is suspected, contact your GP or phone Healthline on 0800 611 116. Phone ahead to avoid the spread of measles in doctors' waiting rooms or hospital emergency departments. People with suspected measles should stay away from work, school or public places.

Phone your GP or phone 0800 IMMUNE (466 863) for the Immunisation Advisory Centre information line or visit immune.org.nz.

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