New Zealand is free of measles

WHO, the World Health Organisation, has officially declared New Zealand free of measles. That includes rubella, the disease which causes birth defects in babies if pregnant women develop rubella in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Vaccinations have been so successful that nobody gets measles now. This is not entirely true because travellers can bring it into this country. Anyone born after 1969 was offered the vaccine although there were no reminders until 2005 so it’s possible older children and young adults received only one vaccine. They needed a booster shot a month later. It is free for anyone who is not sure if they were adequately vaccinated. Women who are planning to get pregnant should check that they had the booster. They cannot have it when they are pregnant. It’s too late. Older people were probably exposed to measles when they were children, so they have developed an immunity.

While measles is a childhood disease, it can be serious. One in 10 who developed measles needed to be hospitalised. It is a highly contagious disease, spread through the air by breathing, sneezing or coughing. Anyone with measles is contagious 5 days before the spots come out and 5 days after. If you are in any doubt about developing measles – or any other health issue – ring the Healthline 0800 611 116.

Note: measles has been a problem in recent years. Type ‘measles” in the search box to hear about this.


• birth defects (n) – eg. blindness, deafness, heart defects
• vaccination (n) – immunisation; in injection of a substance to provide immunity (protection) from the disease; polio vaccination is an oral vaccine, not an injection
• booster (adj), to boost (v) – to increase the effect of something (e.g a booster car seat for children up to the age of 8 increases the height of their seat)
• a shot (n) – an injection (booster shot – second injection)
• hospitalise (v) – to send someone to a hospital for treatment
• immunity (v) – have protection against a disease, immmune (adj)
• contagious (adj) – spreads easily

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