Measles Update from MS New Zealand

Adapted from msnz.org.nz/measles

What you need to know

New Zealand is currently going through a measles outbreak with over 1059 confirmed cases nationwide and 20 of these in the SDHB area according to press reports.

Where possible vaccination is your best protection. However, the MMR immunisation is a live attenuated vaccine.

For people with MS on a disease modifying treatment (DMT) it may carry the risk of infection and therefore is contraindicated.

If you are on a DMT and unsure if you are immunised, it is recommended that you check with your doctor and ask to test your immunity with a blood test. You can also go directly to Southern Community Laboratories and pay for a test.

If you are not immune we recommend talking to your GP or your local hospital based MS Nurse to determine your next steps particularly if you are on a DMT.

Ministry of Health Recommendations

The Ministry of Health website advises that people over 50 are generally considered immune. This is because measles used to be very common. If you are still feeling unsure of your immunity, please contact your primary health provider to discuss whether they recommend having this checked.

For those under the age of 50, if you don’t know if you have been vaccinated, or if you want to check your immunity, it is recommended you contact your doctor and ask for a blood test to check. Or, you can go directly to Southern Community Laboratories and pay for a test where results are available within 3 working days.

In particular, if you are between the ages of 15 and 29, you should check your immunisation records to make sure you received two doses of the MMR vaccine as a child. If you didn’t receive two doses, or can’t confirm whether you did or not, you should contact your GP to test your immunity.

If you are not immune and are on a DMT, we recommend talking to your GP or your local hospital based MS Nurse to determine your next steps.

What can you do if you can’t be vaccinated?

Consider the herd mentality.

Ask your family, friends, colleagues or anyone else that you come into contact with whether they are immunised. If they are unsure, ask them to check with their doctor and get a booster if required.

Consider avoiding places where cases of measles have been confirmed.The Ministry of Health are recommending that if you are not immune you should consider not travelling, particularly if you are going to Auckland.

Please also note if you can be vaccinated you will not be fully immune until two weeks after your vaccination.

For further advice and recommendations see the Ministry of Health website or talk to your primary health provider.

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