Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

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Measles

Measles is a highly infectious virus that spreads easily from person to person through the air, via breathing, coughing and sneezing. It affects both children and adults.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health is advising people travelling overseas to make sure they are fully immunised against measles before they go.

Given the current outbreaks of measles in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Philippines the Ministry of Health is asking primary care providers in New Zealand to ensure vaccinations are up-to-date for any individual (aged 50 and under) who indicates they will be travelling to one of these areas, or any country that has an active outbreak of measles. You should discuss this with your health care provider before travelling. Outbreak regions can be found at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/measles-global.

The Ministry of Health also recommends infants aged six to 11 months travelling to an outbreak area have one dose of MMR. Please remember that any child vaccinated before 12 months of age will still need two further doses of MMR at 15 months and 4 years for long term protection. Two doses of MMR vaccine gives long-lasting protection to at least 95 percent of people. MMR vaccination is free.

Many teenagers and young adults have missed one or both doses of the vaccine, and may be unaware that they are not immune. People who aren’t sure whether they are up to date with all their scheduled immunisations can check with their general practice, or in their Well Child Tamariki Ora health book. For those who are not sure whether they have had both recommended doses, there are no additional safety issues with inadvertently having a third dose.

All people need to be vaccinated at least two weeks before travel.

New Zealand has had a number of outbreaks of measles due to the disease being brought into the country through international travel. Being fully immunised prevents the spread of measles to and from New Zealand.

Travelling in the Pacific

Due to the current outbreaks of measles in areas of the Pacific, American Samoa, Tokelau and Marshall Island authorities have put preventative measures in place to prevent the spread of measles:

  • Marshall Islands - as of 10 December 2019, travellers intending to visit are required to demonstrate proof of immunisation at the border before entering the territory.
  • Tokelau - as of 26 November 2019, travellers are required to demonstrate proof of immunisation before entering the territory.
  • American Samoa - travellers intending to visit are now required to demonstrate proof of immunisation at the border before entering the territory.

All travellers are advised to check entry and exit requirements with the authorities of the countries you’re travelling to. These requirements can change at short notice.

This advice is in addition to any other travel specific vaccinations that may be required. New Zealanders travelling or living overseas should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. 

More information can be found on the Ministry of Health website here:

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