Get vaccinated against measles: Health Dept

The Health Department is urging the public to ensure they are fully vaccinated against measles before travelling overseas to attend sporting events or meeting/conferences, or participating in large community gatherings.

Parents are strongly advised to ensure their children have received at least two doses of measles vaccine.

With several countries around the Pacific experiencing measles outbreaks and with increased travel within the region, travellers are at high risk of measles infection. PNG is on heightened alert for the importation of the measles virus into the country and possible measles outbreak, which can follow the importation of the virus.

People travelling internationally should get immunised before departure if they have not yet received two doses of measles vaccine.

Travellers who are uncertain of their measles vaccination status should receive at least one dose of vaccine at least 15 days prior to travel.

In June 2019, Papua New Guinea included measles-containing vaccine in the last round of the nationwide polio vaccinations. The country vaccinated more than 1.17 million children under 5 years old, covering more than 95 percent of the target population. Because of the history of low immunisation coverage in PNG, this could result in rapid spread of measles within PNG.

Measles is a serious, very infectious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily from person to person through the air by breathing, coughing and sneezing. Anyone who has not previously had measles or been immunised with two doses of measles vaccine can get measles.

Measles attacks the most vulnerable and the unvaccinated children, especially children under 5 years old, but the vaccine is safe and effective. It is available in public health facilities free of charge. All parents/caregivers are encouraged to take unvaccinated children under 2 years old to the nearest health facilities to get measles rubella vaccine as soon as possible.

After being exposed to measles, it will take about two weeks to see signs of measles disease. The first signs of measles infection are usually high fever, runny nose, cough and red, watery eyes.

After about 4 days, a red, blotchy, non-blistering rash will appear on the face and then spread down the body to involve arms and legs. The rash is not itchy.

If you suspect that you or your child may have measles, notify your doctor or health provider and avoid crowds and public spaces to prevent the spread of measles. 

Sally Pokiton