The best defence against measles is the measles vaccine, which is achieved with two doses of the vaccine and provides 99 per cent immunity. It is important to note that if you have had measles you will have lifelong immunity – you can’t get measles twice.
There are two types of the vaccine, both of which are combined with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines (MMR), and one of which also contains the chickenpox vaccine (MMRV). Both are available under the National Immunisation Program, and are free for some groups, including:
- All people under 20 years of age
- Women planning pregnancy or post-natal
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
If you have a weakened immune system, it is not recommended that you receive the measles vaccine. Come in and speak with us if you have any queries.
Side effects of the measles vaccine
Measles vaccines are effective and safe, though all vaccines can have mild side effects. These can include pain at the site of injection, head cold, drowsiness or mild fever. Symptoms are usually mild and do not require any specific treatment.
Pregnancy and the measles vaccine
It is not recommended that pregnant women receive the measles vaccination. Speak with us further if you have any queries.
What is measles?
Measles is a viral disease which is highly contagious and sometimes leads to dangerous complications such as pneumonia. 1 in 1,000 who contract measles will develop inflammation of the brain, and 10 per cent of children thus afflicted will die, while many will be left with brain damage. The risk of death and severe complications is much higher in populations with poor access to health services.
Measles is easily spread from person to person via droplets expelled by an infected person when they cough or sneeze. These droplets have the ability to linger in the air for hours. The virus attacks and kills cells of the immune system which are used to fight infection, making it harder for the body to fight off subsequent ailments. This is why secondary infections – ones that we would normally be able to fight off with ease – become highly dangerous.
Recent research has suggested that measles not only weakens the immune system, but has the ability to reset it. Basically, it wipes the immune system’s memory, making a person vulnerable to infections that they were once protected against.
- Measles usually begins with a runny nose, watery eyes and a cough.
- The infected person will become more unwell with a raised temperature.
- They could develop small, white marks (known as Koplik’s spots) at the back of the mouth and the inside of the cheeks.
- After a few days, a rash will develop with red and raised spots behind the behind the ears, before spreading to the face and neck and then the rest of the body. It will look blotchy, but it won’t be itchy.
- Measles can last for several weeks.
For more information please view the Better Health website.
For information on other vaccines, see also: