Western Australians heading overseas this summer need to make sure measles immunisations are up to date, the State Government has advised, following outbreaks in popular holiday destinations.
Travellers are being recommended to check their measles immunity before leaving Australia, following reminders that measles was a common and potentially deadly illness.
The government said travellers need to check that their immunisations were up to date, with unvaccinated travellers at particular risk of contracting the highly contagious illness.
It said people aged 20-53 may need a Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) booster vaccination as they are likely to have only received a single dose of vaccine recommended at the time.
Two doses are now recommended for optimal immunity.
A State-funded vaccination program is offering people aged between 20 and 53 years-of-age a free booster vaccine from their GP, Aboriginal Medical Service, travel clinic or at community health immunisation clinics.
Western Australians aged over 53 are usually immune to measles because they had the illness as children.
The government said there were a number of significant measles outbreaks occurring in countries overseas.
Outbreaks have been occurring in New Zealand and Pacific Island countries of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
To date, the epidemic in Samoa has killed 62 people.
More than 4,000 Samoans are infected out of its population of 200,000 people.
Families not vaccinated against measles have been told to display red flags outside their homes as part of a mass vaccination campaign.
Samoa’s Prime Minister has also ordered a two-day shut-down of all businesses.
WA communicable disease experts have been part of Australian Medical Assistance Teams assisting the Samoan Ministry of Health respond to the outbreak.
Health Minister Roger Cook said people who did not get immunised were at risk.
“Recent measles cases in Western Australia were traced back to people who had travelled overseas and who received only one dose of the MMR vaccine previously,” Mr Cook said.
“This puts other members of the community – particularly children too young to be vaccinated or people who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons – at risk of this potentially deadly disease.”
He said it was important for people to get vaccinated.
“We are advising travellers to check their immunisation status for measles before departure,” Mr Cook said.
“Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. If you and your family members have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, you are not considered to be at risk.”