Advice on the measles vaccine following reported cases in Victoria

Margie flu blog pic

Dr Margie Danchin is acting head of The Royal Children’s Hospital Immunisation Service, a Senior Research Fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and a Senior Fellow within the University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics.

Common symptoms of the measles virus include a cough, runny nose, sore red eyes, fever, rash, loss of appetite, tiredness, ear infections and diarrhoea.

Most commonly, a rash starts on the face three to seven days after the first symptoms and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles is an infectious disease with up to 90 per cent of non-immune or unprotected people developing measles if they come in contact with the virus, which is spread by droplets from the nose and mouth by coughing or close contact.

In most cases a child with measles will spend about five days in bed and need to have about 10-14 days away from school. Serious illness resulting from measles is less common.

To protect against measles we recommend that parents adhere to the recommended immunisation schedule. If you are particularly concerned, please contact your GP or the RCH Immunisation drop in centre for individual advice. This is discussed further in the Q&A below.

Who is at risk of catching measles?

Vaccination is the best way to protect against measles.

Unvaccinated children are at risk of contracting measles. If your child is not up to date with their vaccines, this is a good time to see your GP or local immunisation centre to catch up.

Unvaccinated adults born in or after 1966 are also at risk.  Adults who were born during or since 1966 may not have had the required two doses of the measles vaccine and are therefore also at risk and should discuss this with their doctor.

Any immunocompromised person may also be at risk, even if they have had the vaccine or measles infection in the past; however immunocompromised people should not receive a measles containing vaccine.

What should I do if I think my child or someone I know has been in contact with a measles case or has measles?

It is advised that you remain at home in an isolated environment to avoid infecting others.

If you or your child requires urgent medical attention call your GP or nearest hospital Emergency Department before attending, and advise them that you have a fever and a rash, and/or have been in contact with a case of measles.

Would my child have had the measles vaccine?

It is recommended that all children have the measles containing vaccine at 12 months and 18 months of age. Since 1 July 2013, the second measles containing vaccine is now given at 18 months of age. Children who turned 18 months old before 1 July 2013 are scheduled to receive their second measles containing vaccine at the age of four years.

Should I or my child be vaccinated now?

If you or your child’s vaccinations are not up to date you should speak with your doctor or the RCH Immunisation drop in centre to discuss vaccination.

Will I get any side effects from this vaccine?

The vaccine contains live, weakened measles, mumps and rubella viruses. You or your child may experience redness or soreness at the site of the injection.

Mild symptoms of the diseases may occur, including fever (greater than 39 degrees in 5-15 per cent of people), rash (in 5 per cent of people) and swollen glands.  These can occur five to 12 days after the vaccine.

How long is someone with measles infectious for?

A person with measles is infectious for two to four days before they develop a rash, when they usually have a fever, cough, sore red eyes and tiredness, until about four days after the rash has appeared.

If you would like further advice or information about the measles vaccine, please contact the RCH Immunisation Centre on 03 9345 6599.

One comment for “Advice on the measles vaccine following reported cases in Victoria”

  1. Catherine Goldsmith

    I have a 4 month old baby and a sister who is an anti vaccination with 4 children.
    When would you recommend it is safe for my baby to have contact with his cousins?
    Should I ask that the parents have the mmr too?
    What can I say when my sister says she’ll never get the mmr vaccination because she is worried about the side effects.
    How common is measles in Victoria in recent times and what is the risk that my baby would get the disease and possibly get severe complications.
    If they were immunised for whooping cough and we waited until our baby was >6 months old would that be reasonably safe.
    Sorry, I’ve tried getting advise from my GP but they weren’t very helpful.
    Thank you

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