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Measles overseas and in New Zealand

National MMR vaccination advice in light of current vaccine supply concerns

The Ministry of Health has modified the standard MMR vaccination catch-up advice.

Advice for those outside Canterbury (including the Auckland region)

Infants aged under 15 months

  • Recommended to receive their MMR vaccination at 15 months of age as per the Immunisation Schedule.

Children aged between 15 months and 4 years

  • Recommended to receive their MMR vaccinations at 15 months and 4 years as per the Immunisation Schedule.

Children aged 5 years or older, teenagers and adults aged under 50 years (i.e. born in 1969 or later)

  • Recommended to receive one catch-up MMR vaccination. After one MMR vaccination 90–95 people in 100 are protected from measles. 
  • Recommended to receive the second MMR catch-up dose once MMR vaccine demand returns to normal (and a minimum of 4 weeks after the first MMR dose).

Adults aged 50 years or older (born in New Zealand before 1969)

  • Not recommended to receive MMR vaccination. They are considered to be immune to measles as there was no measles containing vaccine until 1969 and the disease is so highly infectious.
  • Adults born overseas prior to 1969 may have received a measles-containing vaccination. If you are unsure whether an individual is likely to be susceptible to measles, please call us on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

Additional advice for the Auckland region (Auckland, Waitemata, Counties Manukau DHBs) from 16 May 2019

Management of contacts of a confirmed measles case is changing from 16 May:

Advice for Canterbury

The advice for people in Canterbury is different to the rest of New Zealand.

Advice for front line health care staff born on/after 1 January 1969

  • PLEASE check your measles immunisation status.
  • If you do not have any documented measles-containing vaccine doses it is important to obtain the first of two MMR vaccinations (and the second documented MMR vaccination once the demand for MMR vaccine returns to normal).
  • If you come in contact with a measles case and do not have any documented measles-containing vaccine doses and your measles immunity is unknown, you will need to be stood down from work during the possible incubation period or until you are confirmed as being immune to measles.

Travel overseas to a country with a measles outbreak

Prior to travel to a country with a measles outbreak:**

  • Infants aged 6–11 months can have one MMR vaccination.# The 15 month and 4 year MMR vaccinations remain due to be administered at the relevant ages as per the Immunisation Schedule.
  • Children aged 12–14 months can have one MMR vaccination. The second MMR vacicnation remains due when the child is aged 4 years as per the Immunisation Schedule.
  • Adults born in 1969 or later can have one MMR vaccination. The second MMR vaccination would be deferred until the demand for MMR vaccine demand returns to normal (and a minimum of 4 weeks after the first MMR dose).
  • Adults born in New Zealand before 1969 do not receive a MMR vaccination. They are considered immune to measles as the disease was prevalent and circulating widely prior to introduction of a measles vaccine in 1969.

**Note 1 – Travel to Canterbury is not currently considered to carry the same level of risk as travel to countries with serious measles outbreaks and MMR0 is not recommended or funded for these infants.
**Note 2 – Travel to anywhere in the USA. Refer to this website for travel updates about non-USA countries with measles outbreaks – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Measles for travellers.
Note 3 – PMS entry and claiming:
– – Enter the dose on the NIR using your PMS high risk MMR vaccine option.
– – Leave the Schedule 15 months and 4 years MMR vaccinations as to be given in the future.
– – The additional vaccination at 6–11 months of age is funded. An Immunisation Subsidy can be claimed.

    Latest updates

      Ministry of Health – 2019 measles outbreak information

     Auckland Regional Public Health – Measles update, 10 May 2019 (change to management of contacts from 16 May)

      Ministry of Health – Immunisation Update for primary care teams and health professionals, 12 April 2019

      Ministry of Health – National MMR vaccination advice modified in light of current vaccine supplies, 18 March 2019

     IMAC – Quick update on measles and vaccination priorities, March 2019

    Measles within New Zealand

    Since 2012, all cases of measles in New Zealand came from travellers bringing the disease from overseas. Individuals who have not been immunised against measles or had the disease, and individuals who are immune compromised due to an illness or treatment, may catch the disease next time an overseas traveller who has measles arrives in New Zealand. 

    In 2019, a total of 155 measles cases were confirmed in New Zealand between 1 January and 24 May. As of 17 May, 55 people with measles had been hospitalised. The age of those infected with measles include infants aged from 2 months to under 12 months (and too young to be vaccinated), children aged 1–5 years, adolescents 10–19 years, young adults 20–39 years, adults aged in their 30s or 40s and five adults aged in their 50s. The majority of cases have occurred in children, adolescents and young adults aged under 30 years.

    Location by District Health Board Cumulative number of confirmed measles cases in 2019
    Northland 2 cases
    Auckland region 69 cases
    Waikato 14 cases
    Bay of Plenty 21 cases
    Lakes 4 cases
    Wellington region 4 cases
    Canterbury 39 cases
    Southland 2 cases


    Other resources


     Quick answers to frequent MMR questions fact sheet

     Measles fact sheet

     Diseases and medications when live vaccines may be contraindicated fact sheet

     Measles – Why immunise video

     Quick update on measles and vaccination priorities, March 2019 video

     Protecting children with cancer video


      2019 measles outbreak information, Ministry of Health

     Health emergency response, Canterbury Primary Response Group

     Measles weekly report, ESR (Institute of Environmental Science & Research Limited)

     SafeTravel, a New Zealand website with advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

     Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Measles for travellers, a U.S. website with travel updates about countries with measles outbreaks





      Last updated: May 2019