Do you need a measles booster?

Health officials urge all Australians to check their immunisation history.

Do you need a measles booster?

As the US battles measles outbreaks in 24 states, a fresh outbreak in Victoria this week has again prompted health officials to urge all Australians to check their immunisation history.

Health Minister Greg Hunt says everyone should check their records and book in for a catch-up vaccination if necessary.

High vaccination rates over several decades resulted in Australia being declared measles-free just five years ago. However, because the disease is so infectious and immunisation in some countries is not high, travellers can unwittingly bring it into Australia.

Kristine Macartney, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, told the ABC: “Globally, we’re seeing hundreds of thousands of cases of measles, and indeed tens of thousands of measles deaths.

“Measles is incredibly contagious, and where there are not very high vaccination rates – over 90 per cent – we are at risk of seeing it rear its ugly head.

“Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening around the world at present … it is quite a serious situation.”

Confirmed cases in Australia have hit a five-year high.

Professor Macartney said many Australians aged in their 20s to early 50s might not be fully vaccinated because the second dose of the vaccine wasn’t routinely given until the early 1990s. “So people may think they’ve had the two recommended doses, when actually they haven’t,” she said.

The two-dose vaccination program was introduced in Australia in 1992, but many Australians born earlier may have missed out on the second dose, or missed out on the measles vaccine altogether, she said.

Older Australians born before 1966 were likely to have natural immunity to the virus, which was common childhood disease before a national vaccination program was introduced.

You can check your immunisation history with your GP, through the Australian Immunisation Register, or via a blood test.

Prof. Macartney said: “There is also no problem in receiving an extra dose of the measles vaccine if you’re unsure about how many doses you’ve received in the past.

“It’s a safe vaccine, and very highly effective.”

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness. It takes about 10 days before a person who is infected exhibits symptoms. And it is during that time that it is particularly contagious.

The virus spreads through coughs and sneezes and can survive on surfaces for up to two hours.

Early symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, watery eyes and fatigue. After about four days, a rash will appear.

While most people make a full recovery, measles can lead to serious and sometimes fatal complications, including diarrhoea and vomiting, pneumonia and other respiratory infections, and swelling of the brain.

The Department of Health says that about one in 15 people with measles gets pneumonia and one in 1000 develops brain swelling, which can lead to brain damage.

If you are concerned that you may not have been vaccinated, talk with your GP.

Are you a big believer in vaccinations? Did you make sure your children received vaccinations? Have you had a flu shot?

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    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.





    COMMENTS

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    jackie
    23rd May 2019
    11:21am
    I had measles as a child. It was no big deal.
    Paddington
    23rd May 2019
    4:47pm
    We nearly lost one of our children from measles encephalitis so it certainly is a big deal.
    musicveg
    24th May 2019
    12:35am
    Yes Jackie it was a very common childhood disease without issues and like all diseases majority will recover.Sorry to hear of your loss Paddington but it is quite rare to die from it.
    leek
    23rd May 2019
    11:25am
    had measles as a kid, so I now have an immunity to it now? I am still going to get the Shingles Vaccination. Pretty sure I am not immuned to that! As oldies everywhere seem to get Shingles.
    KSS
    23rd May 2019
    1:25pm
    Shingles is a different virus to the measles virus. It is related to chicken pox. The chicken pox virus can reactivate in later life causing shingles. Same virus, different disease.

    As for measles, I would check with your doctor. There is a test you can have to check immunity. Generally speaking having measles does confer lifelong immunity.
    casey
    23rd May 2019
    2:58pm
    I have had measles and shingles, just had a shingles jab though because my GP said having had it does't give you immunity. I do remember as a child if any families had a child with chicken pox , measles etc we were sent to play with their kids so we would catch it too.

    23rd May 2019
    1:44pm
    No! We don't need vaccines, but Big Pharma need a big profit !
    It's a scaremongering by the already filthy rich corporations that never get enough !
    Agnes
    23rd May 2019
    2:04pm
    Australia was measles free 5 years ago , and USA nearly was too. Now we are seeing the recrudescence of these diseases along with TB, typhoid, rubella etc., because of anti vaxxers and immigration. Remember the only thing that eradicated smallpox from the world was vaccination (and nothing else)...that is the power of vaccination. Yes by and large measles is a self limiting childhood infection without sequelae but that's no comfort to those people (mainly children) that are killed by it, or worse brain damaged, or paraplegic etc for life.
    So I have had the flu injection without any problems but will get a second one in view of the severity ( a friend's 7 month old child has just died of the flu, and another's 84 year old mother has just died of it). I will also be getting the whooping cough vaccine (so many people with that chronic cough including a brother),the shingles vaccine, the haemophilus influenza vaccine for encephalitis, as well the pneumonia vaccine, and meningitis vaccine. As we are going on cruises later I will also get the typhoid, anthrax , vaccine and a tetanus booster, as well as the usual malaria prevention. I tolerate all these vaccines without and side effects or discomfort, but I understand that small percentage of people don't, and some people are genuinely intolerant of vaccines, or are immune-compromised, and it is our community responsibility suability to protect their health by protecting our own.
    I am sorry but your view is misguided and misinformed Big Pharma as you call it may be guilt of making money on other medications, but less likely on vaccines as they often supply them free to 3rd world nations (or whatever the appropriate term is these days).
    KSS
    23rd May 2019
    4:26pm
    Digby not just antivaxxers and immigration but tourists from overseas and Australians returning from overseas. My understanding is that these recent outbreaks in Australia have been triggered by people who have travelled to and from those countries overseas that have a higher prevalence such as Vietnam and the Phillipines.
    Agnes
    24th May 2019
    7:29am
    Point taken ( and a very valid point at that) KSS. You are absolutely correct.
    neil
    23rd May 2019
    2:09pm
    I had measles aged 18 months, it nearly killed me. Have the shot if needs be. These anti vaccine people are just complete nutters.

    Neil.
    neil
    23rd May 2019
    2:09pm
    I had measles aged 18 months, it nearly killed me. Have the shot if needs be. These anti vaccine people are just complete nutters.

    Neil.
    Agnes
    23rd May 2019
    3:07pm
    Well said Neil. Tell it like it is. I am glad you are still here to tell the tale. Significant numbers are killed by the measles virus.
    Jennie
    23rd May 2019
    3:37pm
    Well said Neil and Digby. I had measles as a child, and mumps and chicken pox all at once and my mother thought I was going to die. No vaccinations then.
    I remember children in my primary school who had survived polio (no vaccinations then for polio either). They were in clumsy leg irons or wheelchairs. As an adult I know people of my age and older who have post-polio syndrome - much pain for ever...
    The anti vaccine people are totally selfish as they rely on the herd protection of those children who have been vaccinated when not vaccinating their own children. SHAME on them! The only children who can't be vaccinated are those with compromised immune systems who are going through eg, chemotherapy. So yes vaccinate all children who can be by law so as the children with cancer are protected by the herd, not the nutcases.
    Agnes
    23rd May 2019
    3:45pm
    Agree Jennie. Polio is one of the most vile and virulent diseases both in the acute (paraplegia etc) and post polio syndrome variety. I remember as a registrar, a female colleague had a parent (father) who was an idiot anti vaxxer. She got polio, a lifetime on crutches with all the shoulder injuries and fatigue that involves. How she hated her father for that. Whilst I have never seen them in reality, I have read the books and seen the movies about wards full of people, often children in iron lungs. is that really what the anti vaxxers want for their children. Of course there are a myriad of other diseases that cause deformity, disability, and a wretched state for life, if we don't vaccinate against them.
    almost midnight
    23rd May 2019
    9:57pm
    if you have ever seen a small child with whooping cough - vaccination is just so important. My music teacher was a polio survivor - and had amost ungainly built up shoe that was extremely heavy - she was one of the 'lucky' ones - but still had constant pain
    - please vaccinate!
    almost midnight
    23rd May 2019
    9:57pm
    if you have ever seen a small child with whooping cough - vaccination is just so important. My music teacher was a polio survivor - and had amost ungainly built up shoe that was extremely heavy - she was one of the 'lucky' ones - but still had constant pain
    - please vaccinate!
    Good choices
    24th May 2019
    8:32am
    Polio....My brother who was born in 1955 contracted Polio, we lived in the Central West of NSW he would have been about five years old, what happened was, my mother decided not to vaccinate him against Polio, not sure if the rest of us had been though, so around 1960 he was the unlucky one, he was flown to The Royal Alexandria Childrens Hosp. Camperdown, due to his complications. I remember that he spent a long time in Hosp. he had irons on both legs, now he has one leg that has had muscle wastage, walks with a limp, does suffer other issues as well. I don't ever remember having measles, unless I was too young to remember, but had Chicken Pox which I caught from my children and as an adult having Chicken Pox, I tell you it was miserable, then about five years had Shingles, but not very bad which I was very lucky. I have had the Whooping Cough Vax, Pneumonia Vax. I remember at high school they were giving us the Rubella Vax, not sure if the measles one was in with it as well, that was around 1968. All my children have been VACCINATED, wouldn't have it any other way.


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