If people suspect they or a loved one has measles, it is very important they telephone first before going to their GP or hospital emergency department, quality improvement manager Glenda Maxwell says.
At present, 20 cases of measles have been confirmed in Queenstown and Southern District Health Board staff are working to contain the disease.
Medical staff would need to know in advance if a patient could have measles, Mrs Maxwell said.
“We will need to isolate them before they’re assessed.”
It was also important for people to know whether they are immune to measles, especially if they were travelling.
There were three possible ways to know this.
“Someone born before January 1, 1969 is considered to have immunity because the measle virus was well-spread amongst the community prior to that.
“If someone is known to have had the measles or had two confirmed doses of the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine you are considered immune.”
Gore Health practice nurse Lyndal Eason said children were immunised with the MMR vaccine at 15 months and 4 years old.
However, it was possible to vaccine children earlier.
“It is an option for 15-month immunisations to be given at 12 months if people are concerned and travelling to areas of outbreaks,” Mrs Eason said.
Many people did not know if they were immune or not.
“Our recommendation is for people to check their Plunket books [and] then talk to their GP and ask them for a vaccination record to identify whether they have received two confirmed doses of the MMR vaccine,” Mrs Maxwell said.
It was likely people aged between 29 and 50-years-old had been given only one dose of the MMR vaccine as the immunisation schedule had changed throughout the years.
“Advice from the Ministry of Health is that if you’ve had one dose of the MMR vaccine there is a 95% coverage but with two doses there is a 99% coverage and you are considered immune.”
It was not wise to assume a person was immune unless there was documentation to prove it.
There was a limited amount of the MMR vaccine available in Gore at present so people should check health centres have the vaccine before booking an appointment.
“Generally we have a good supply and it is never an issue,” Mrs Eason said.