Measles has been in the news in the USA recently and with cases in Christchurch, a scare in Sumner in March 2015 and outbreaks occurring regularly in New Zealand, it is time to review the immunisation status of your children.
Measles is not a minor childhood illness - it is very infectious so spreads quickly and can kill - 1 in 1000 children will be harmed permanently by measles and half of those will die.
The good news is that with immunisation it is possible to prevent both infection initially and the spread of the disease.
Just because we don't experience this illness regularly, does not mean it is not a hazard - consider a typical pre-school where 90% of the children have been immunised with a single dose of MMR (which provides up to 90-95% protection) - out of 40 children, 4 will not have been immunised and a mean of 3.6 will not have immunity from a single immunisation - between 5 and 8 children in any group of 40 will not be protected - more than enough for measles to spread, especially in larger groupings of children. This means it is vitally important that you immunise your child and make sure you give them BOTH doses of the vaccine.
We are currently sending a letter to the parents of all children for whom we hold no record of them having 2 doses of MMR vaccine.
In some cases this will be due to an earlier choice not to immunise, in some cases it may have been overlooked, and in others the immunisation may have been given before records were computerised or may have been given elsewhere.
If you receive one of these letters, please do not be alarmed. Right now the risk of measles is small - we just want to keep it that way!
Just give the surgery a call and our nurses will be pleased to discuss your options with you.
If you have general questions, please feel free to comment on our Facebook posting on this issue - sharing with the community can be very helpful.
If you are keen to know more about some of the concerns people may have about immunisation, there is a very good and easy to read reference section in the 2014 immunisation handbook, which is available as a pdf document free of charge. The relevant section starts at page 99. This is the national standard reference work and may be considered to be the most reliable sources of immunisation information.