18 October 2019

Measles cluster in Perth metropolitan area - update #7: Adults aged 20-53 reminded to get measles vaccine booster

The Department of Health would like to reassure the public that there have been no new cases of measles in recent days from the Rockingham cluster.

Of the 26 confirmed measles cases associated with the cluster, patients affected were generally in close proximity to an infected person.

Public Health Physician in Communicable Disease Dr Donna Mak said that this means the ongoing risk to the general public from this outbreak is not high.

“Unless you have been in contact with a person with confirmed measles and have been contacted by the Department of Health, we ask that you be alert but not alarmed,” Dr Mak said.

“Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease, and if you and your family members have been fully vaccinated, you are not at risk.

“However, we remind people aged 20-53, that they should receive a Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) booster vaccination as soon as possible, because even if they were vaccinated as children, they are likely to have only received the single dose of vaccine recommended at the time, whereas we now know that two doses are required for optimal immunity.”

This MMR booster vaccine is especially important for adults under the age of 53 travelling overseas, as the measles virus is active in many countries, including popular destinations such as New Zealand, Thailand and Indonesia.

Of the 50 measles cases in Western Australia this year, many were brought in from people who had travelled overseas, who were not vaccinated as a child, or whose immunity had waned over time.

This puts other members of the community, especially pregnant women, children too young to be vaccinated, or people who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons, at risk of this potentially deadly disease.

Dr Mak said that people aged 20-53 years could receive a free MMR vaccine from their GP, Aboriginal Medical Service, travel clinic or community health immunisation clinics through a State-funded vaccination program.

To learn more about measles, visit the HealthyWA website (external site).

Notes:

  • Persons born prior to 1966 are usually immune to measles because they had the illness as a child.
  • The National Immunisation Program starting providing two doses of MMR to people from the year 2000 on, so people 19 and under who were fully vaccinated as children have received two doses.

ENDS

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