Measles outbreak - information for caregivers

Published: March 14, 2019

If you're a caregiver, here's what you need to know about the measles outbreak.

The best protection against measles is the MMR vaccination

There are now confirmed cases of measles in a number of parts of the country, including Canterbury, Dunedin and Auckland.

If you’re unsure whether a child in your care has been immunised, please get in touch with their social worker as soon as possible to get this checked. If the child has not been immunised, the child’s social worker will need to contact the child’s parent or guardian to seek permission for this to happen.

If you’re unsure about your own, or your families vaccinations, we strongly encourage you to contact your GP to check if you’re up-to-date, as some reported cases have been adults.


It usually takes 10 to 14 days for someone who has caught measles to start showing symptoms. These include:

  • Respiratory symptoms such as a dry cough, runny nose or headache.
  • Temperature over 38.5 C and feeling very unwell.
  • A red blotchy rash which starts on days four to five - usually on the face and then moving to the chest and arms.

Anyone who develops symptoms should keep away from their school, day care, workplace, and other public places, and seek medical advice. Please call your doctor’s surgery before going in to let them know your situation.  

Prevention and immunisation

The best way to prevent measles is to be immunised on time with two MMR vaccinations. These are available free of charge for all children; the first when they are 15 months old and the second when they are four years old. Two doses of MMR vaccine is at least 97 per cent effective in preventing measles.

You can be immunised at any time if you have missed your two vaccinations. It’s particularly important for adolescents, as many are not fully protected.

People born between 1969 and 1984 who have had only one MMR dose are also at risk. These people are entitled to the second MMR dose free of charge (practice fees may apply), and should make arrangements for this as soon as possible.

General information about measles

Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral disease. It’s spread through droplets in the air and skin to skin contact. Up to 30 per cent of those who catch it will develop complications. Children under five and adults over the age of 20 are at a higher risk of complications. Measles during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature labour and low birth-weight in babies.

If you have any concerns please call your GP or contact Healthline on 0800 611 116.

More information about measles is available at