An ongoing measles outbreak in the Philippines has prompted an urgent reminder for people travelling to the Philippines (and Asia) to check they and their children are fully immunised for measles before their departure.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 40 cases of measles cases have been diagnosed in NSW. Most cases have been associated with overseas travel or contacts of people who have travelled overseas. This represents the highest number of overseas acquired cases in a calendar month in over a decade and is a result of under-vaccinated residents travelling to the Philippines, Bali and other parts of Asia where large outbreaks are known to be occurring.
The measles virus is highly contagious and is easily transmitted to unprotected and vulnerable people in the community. Measles-containing vaccine is recommended at 12 months and again at 18 months of age and is free of charge. People born during or after 1966 who have not received two doses of measles-containing vaccine should visit their local doctor to receive the free vaccine as soon as possible.
Young infant travellers eligible for measles vaccination have featured in the cases in 2014. Babies who are travelling overseas, particularly to Philippines (and Asia) before their 12 month old vaccine is due can be given the first dose as early as 9 months of age. Children over 18 months who have not had their second dose of measles vaccine can be vaccinated now.
The measles vaccine is very safe and effective. Free measles vaccine is provided through a variety of services, including: General Practices, some Community Health Services, Local Councils and Aboriginal Medical Services. Further information on measles is available by phoning your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055, and on NSW Health website information and resources.
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