Measles information for schools

16 August, 2019

The Taranaki Public Health Unit has confirmed a second case of measles in Taranaki this week, and is warning teachers and parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Measles spreads easily via coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include a high fever along with a runny nose, hacking cough, sore red eyes, followed by a rash three to five days later which starts on the head and spreads down the body.

Adults and children who are suspected to have measles should stay away from school, work and public places to help prevent putting others at risk.

If there is a measles case at a school, children and teachers who have not been immunised may also need to stay away  until the risk of getting measles has passed.  The Medical Officer of Health will work with the school principal to determine the appropriate response.

The virus is contagious before symptoms appear, and anyone with measles needs to be isolated from the time they become ill until 5 days after the rash has appeared.

You should also ring your doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for more advice if you suspect you or a child has measles.

Now is also the time to consider if you and the children in your care are immune to measles or not.

Protection against measles is provided by two doses of the MMR vaccine routinely given to children at age 15 months and 4 years

Children are considered ‘fully immunised’ against measles when they have two documented measles or MMR vaccinations.

Similarly, those born in 1969 or later are considered ‘fully immunised’ against measles when they have two documented MMR vaccinations. 

Those born before 1969 are considered immune.

Evidence suggests that one dose of measles or MMR vaccine protects 95 per cent of people from developing measles. The other five per cent may need a second vaccination to be covered.

Any child immunised after 2005 will have their immunisations recorded on the National Immunisation Register.

Those who are unsure of their immunity status should get it checked. This can be done through GPs, though some people may also have physical written records at home – like a Plunket or Well Child Tamariki Ora book – which may detail their immunisations. The Taranaki DHB recommends that those who have had no measles immunisation should get vaccinated.

Early childhood centres and schools should also have their own immunisation registers. Now is the time to ensure that these are up to date. 

Please find attached a measles fact sheet and information that can be shared with parents and caregivers.

For more information please contact the Medical Officer of Health at the Taranaki Public Health Unit on 06 753 7798.