Unvaccinated Kiwis bearing brunt of measles outbreak

Ninety-five percent of the children under ten who have caught measles in New Zealand this year have not been vaccinated.

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research released its latest report on the current measles outbreak and its findings paint a damning picture for parents who have chosen to not vaccinate their children.

Thirty-two children under the age of three have been hospitalised by the disease since the year began and just one of those had been fully vaccinated.

Of the 71 people under 19 to have received hospital treatment, just three had been vaccinated, a rate of 96 percent.

Ministry of Health director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay told Newshub the disease can be devastating for babies in particular.

"That's why it's really important our national immunisation schedule continues on track and children receive their free routine MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] immunisations on time at 15 months and four years of age,” McElnay told The AM Show.

"We also want to encourage teenagers and young adults who have never been vaccinated to get immunised."

Measles is life-threatening and can cause complications including permanent hearing loss, brain damage, pneumonia and seizures.

The region with the highest number of confirmed measles cases in the past week was Waitemata, while there were none in Canterbury where the disease first showed signs of breaking out.

How can people protect themselves?

Two doses of the MMR vaccine can give 99 percent protection against the measles virus, Dr McElnay says.

"One does of vaccine is effective in 95 percent of people, including toddlers," she told Newshub.

What should you do if you catch or suspect you've caught measles?

Dr McElnay told Newshub the first symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and sore, watery pink eyes followed by a blotchy rash.

"If you catch measles you're infectious five days before and until five days after the rash appears.

"If you're feeling sick, you should stay away from work, school or public places, to help prevent putting other people at risk. Isolating yourself will help protect vulnerable people."