Update – measles and influenza outbreaks
Updated Wednesday 14 March, 4pm
Dear health care colleagues
Please see below a further update regarding measles and influenza in the Southern district, which incorporates advice from Ministry of Health received today.
We continue to be concerned around the presence of these illnesses in the Southern district and neighbouring areas and will provide you with updates as new information becomes available. Please ensure these updates are circulated widely in your practices or organisations to ensure all staff have the information they need.
Thank you again for your ongoing efforts in managing these illnesses at this time.
Dr Marion Poore
Medical Officer of Health
Public Health South, Southern DHB
- New information, following Ministry of Health Advisory:
The Ministry of Health has advised today that one dose of MMR or measles vaccine will protect 95% of vaccinated people against measles, so patients who have previously been vaccinated are likely to be protected.
However those who have never been vaccinated and who have been exposed to measles should remain in isolation to avoid exposing others to the illness.
- As per yesterday’s communication, two cases measles have been confirmed in the Southern district. The first was on 22 February and the second occurred this week when a 39 year old man who had been exposed to measles in Christchurch became sick while visiting family in Dunedin. Public Health South is currently following up with those he had been in contact with during his infectious period.
- Health care workers – please check your own immunisation status. You need two MMRs to be fully protected. Those aged between 29 and 50 may not have had both vaccinations. Ministry of Health advice today is that one vaccination will protect 95% of vaccinated people against measles. If in doubt, please contact your general practice.
- Measles must be notified to Public Health South upon suspicion – see measles HealthPathway for the process.
- Public Health South's advice to general practices in the Southern district is to continue with the usual vaccination schedule at this time – MMR at 15 months and four years.
- The clinical situation in Canterbury is different which has resulted in their focus on those who have not had any vaccinations.
Advice for families travelling to Christchurch:
New information: advice from the Ministry of Health is: MMR can be given to infants aged 6-11 months if there is a high risk of exposure to measles, for example travel to countries with serious outbreaks. The vaccine given to this age group can be entered on the NIR using your PMS high risk MMR vaccine option leaving the scheduled 15 month and 4 year MMR vaccine still be to given in the future as per the Immunisation Schedule. These younger infants will need two further doses of MMR as per the Immunisation Schedule since the effectiveness of the vaccine is lower in this age group. The additional vaccination at 6-11 months of age is funded.
At this stage, travel to Canterbury is not considered to carry the same level of risk as travel to countries with serious outbreaks.
Therefore, in advising those who are planning travel to Christchurch with unvaccinated children, they should
- Consider if travel is essential
- Be aware the 15 month MMR vaccination can be brought forward to 12 months
- Be aware that babies vaccinated between six to 11 months will still need MMR vaccinations at 15 months and four years.
Measles coverage at 28 Feb 2019 is 93% for children aged four years and 92% for those aged two years.
Seasonal Influenza viruses (H3N2; H1N1) are currently circulating in Otago and Southland communities including among health care staff. This is much earlier in the year than the usual winter influenza season in July.
New information: Our latest advice is that the community vaccination programme is still scheduled to commence from 1 April. Hospital-based healthcare workers may be able to begin receiving vaccinations from next week. We will update you as more information is available and can expect a busy period as patients seek to protect themselves from this illness.
Please refer to HealthPathways for information on managing this illness, and remaining alert for possibilities of alternative diagnoses including measles and meningococcal disease