If you are planning a trip overseas this summer – make sure you check your measles immunisations are up to date.
Health Minister Roger Cook today reminded travellers that measles was a common and potentially deadly illness in many popular overseas holiday destinations.
There are currently a number of significant measles outbreaks occurring in New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
To date the epidemic in Samoa has killed 62 people. Of Samoa’s population of 200,000, more than 4,000 people are infected – one in 50.
Families in Samoa not vaccinated against measles have been told to display red flags outside their homes as part of a mass vaccination campaign and Samoa’s Prime Minister has ordered a two-day shutdown of all businesses.
Unvaccinated travellers are at particular risk of contracting this highly contagious illness – both in transit and during their stay overseas.
Western Australian communicable disease experts have been part of Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) assisting the Samoan Ministry of Health in the response to the measles outbreak there.
For travellers heading overseas, the advice is simple – check your measles immunisations are up to date.
People aged 20-53 may need a MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) booster vaccination as they are likely to have only received a single dose of vaccine recommended at the time. Two doses of MMR are now known to be required for optimal immunity.
Western Australians over 53 are usually immune to measles because they had the illness as children.
A State-funded vaccination program is offering people aged 20-53 years a free MMR booster vaccine from their GP, Aboriginal Medical Service, travel clinic or at community health immunisation clinics.
For details visit the https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“We are advising travellers to check their immunisation status for measles before departure.
“Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. If you and your family members have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, you are not considered to be at risk.
“Recent measles cases in Western Australia were traced back to people who had travelled overseas and who had received only one dose of the MMR vaccine previously.
“This puts other members of the community – particularly children too young to be vaccinated or people who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons – at risk of this potentially deadly disease.”