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9:45 AM Wednesday August  26, 2009

26th August 2009

The number of 18 month old Māori tamariki in the Auckland region who have received their first dose of the measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is low at just 6 out of 10 infants.

This means that a large number of Māori infants in the Auckland region could get measles which is a serious and highly infectious viral disease that can be fatal. A child sick with measles might also get complications including ear infections, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) Clinical Director Dr Julia Peters urges all people in the Auckland region to check their child’s Tamariki Ora Health Book, and ensure all 12 month to 12 year olds have received at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. If you are not sure whether your child has received the MMR vaccine or not, it is safe to receive again.

“For children, receiving at least one dose of the MMR vaccine, which is free, is the only way to protect them from getting sick with measles.” she says.

Ministry of Health yesterday issued a reminder to all parents to get their children immunised against measles or risk having them sent home from school for 2 weeks if there is a measles outbreak.

The early symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and white spots in the mouth. After 3 to 5 days a rash appears on the head and moves down the body.

“Everyone should watch out for the symptoms of measles” says Dr Peters. “If you or your child is unwell and you suspect it is measles, it is important to call a doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 as soon as possible”

Measles is highly infectious so please call the doctor before going to the doctor or health clinic.

For further media information contact: Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) Communications Team on 021 243 2421.

Available for interviews is Dr Julia Peters, Clinical Director, ARPHS
Naida Glavish, General Manager, Māori Health, ADHB - fluent in Te Reo
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