'It's really important': People urged to get vaccinated as measles outbreak spreads

Academics say are calling on families without vaccinations to get themselves up to date, as a measles outbreak continues to spread throughout the country.

More than 700 have cases of the illness have been confirmed in Auckland so far this year, and more than 900 cases country-wide.

Auckland University vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris says the problem goes back generations.

"What we've got now is some historical problems where people in certain age groups that are part of those cohorts that were under immunised, and that becomes a problem when you've got something like measles," says Dr Petousis-Harris.

Dr Petousis-Harris says it's vitally important that as measles cases continue to rise, people ensure they and their families have been vaccinated.

"This is a very well-used vaccine and it really is the only way to protect not just your own child but also a lot of people in the community that can't be vaccinated themselves. It's really, really important."

She also says it's important that people understand how dangerous measles can be.

"Helping people to understand just how horrible this disease can be. I think it's really, really important for people to understand that - look this is actually what we are seeing, this is awful. And yeah, someone might die."

Symptoms for measles include a fever, runny nose, cough, sore red eyes and then a rash.