Measles is a serious disease that can be life-threatening. It’s also very contagious so it spreads fast. If you’re not immunised, it could make you very sick.
A significant part of the New Zealand workforce is at high risk of catching and spreading measles. Large numbers of 15 to 30-year-olds missed out on their measles vaccinations as children.
In 2019 that gap allowed measles to take hold in New Zealand, infecting more than 2000 people. Around 700 people were hospitalised. Māori and Pacific people were particularly affected. The measles outbreak then spread to Samoa where it became deadly.
Measles could seriously impact workplaces if we have another outbreak in New Zealand. An outbreak could see the disease spread to workmates, whānau, customers and the community.
Measles is so infectious that 95% of the population must be immune to protect the country from an outbreak. If you’re not immunised, just being in the same room as someone with measles can lead to infection.
We have a very effective vaccine available right now to help prevent future outbreaks. This can only happen if we make sure that those of us who missed out on being immunised as children can catch up now.
Getting immunised helps protect not just the individual, but also everyone they know, as well as those unable to be immunised, such as cancer patients and babies.
It’s free to get the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. It is available from a doctor or participating pharmacies. If someone isn’t sure if they are immunised against measles, it’s okay to get the vaccine again.
It makes sense for all employers to encourage their workers to be protected – so they can stay healthy and well, keep working and remain earning. But if you have large numbers of under-30s on your staff, it’s even more important to do this.
For further information, the 'Guardians of the Future' campaign page has factsheets in multiple languages to download and use. There are also lots of other resources available, such as posters, online banners and videos. Talk with your District Health Board communications team for support with promotions.