Students and staff at Albany Senior High School are being asked to stay away from school while public health staff identify close contacts of a measles case.
A student was at the school while infectious with measles on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 April. All household contacts are currently in quarantine.
While the school is already closed for a teachers’ only day tomorrow, information has been sent to the school community alerting them to the additional school closure on Friday.
Public health is asking all staff and students to check their immunity and stay home in quarantine if they are not immune. People are considered immune if they have evidence of two Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) doses after 12 months of age, having had measles or were born before 1969. Staff and students will be contacted by Public Health.
“Although many students will be fully vaccinated with two MMR doses, we need to close the school so we can check the immunity of all 100 staff and 900 students,” says National Public Health Service Interim Clinical Lead, Dr William Rainger.
“Public health is working as quickly as possible to check immunisation records, and will be in touch with students who are not immune to ask them to remain in quarantine and to provide them with further advice and support.”
Anyone with concerns or questions about measles can also call Healthline on 0800 611 116, at any time. Interpreters are also available. You can choose to speak with a Māori clinician if you’re calling between 8am-8pm.
“In the meantime, we ask that staff and students who don’t have two MMR vaccinations to stay home and not go to work, or social or sports events, or have visitors. The quarantine period for non-immune close contacts starts on Thursday (4 May) and they are required to stay away from others in case they are developing measles for a further seven days.”
Albany Senior High School is a modern learning environment with five open-plan halls, and the student was in all halls while infectious, mixing with a number of year levels and classes.
“As a result, around 100 staff and 900 students are considered contacts and we need to confirm their immunity.”
Auckland Regional Public Health Service has instructed the school to close under the Health Act.
Public Health is currently investigating the source of the infection. The case has not been overseas recently, which means they were infected by someone with measles within New Zealand. The source of the student’s infection is likely to be a person known to them who has recently travelled abroad.
“Measles is a highly infectious illness and can make people very unwell. It spreads very easily amongst people who have not had measles before, or who have not been immunised,” Dr Rainger says.
Parents can check on their children’s immunity by looking in the blue Well Child Tamariki Ora or Plunket Book Child Health or Plunket book or asking their medical centre about vaccination.
“We will continue to see measles cases coming into Aotearoa New Zealand, given high rates of infection in other pockets of the world” adds Dr Rainger.
“If you’re worried about measles in your whānau, the best protection is to be immunised with two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR). The vaccine is safe, free and effective. You can get it from your doctor, practice nurse or usual healthcare provider. People over three years old can also be vaccinated at some local pharmacies.”
To find out more about vaccination providers in your area, visit: https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/
Tamariki are vaccinated against measles at 12 and 15 months old as part of their routine childhood immunisation. If your child missed their MMR vaccine it’s ok to catch up.
“Many people under the age of 30 also missed out on their MMR vaccine as a child”, adds Dr Rainger. “If you’re in this age group and you’ve not had the vaccine, or you’re not sure, go and get it. It will protect you and those you love against serious illness and you won’t need to stay at home in quarantine if you are exposed to measles.”
Ross Henderson, Principal Media Advisor, 021 562 720