Don’t leave home without your measles shot

5 December 2019

If you are planning a trip overseas this summer – make sure you check your measles immunisations are up-to-date.

Young backpacking couple

A State-funded vaccination program is offering people aged 20-53 years a free measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) booster vaccine from their GP, Aboriginal Medical Service, travel clinic or at community health immunisation clinics.

Travellers are reminded that measles is a common and potentially deadly illness in many popular overseas holiday destinations.

There are currently a number of significant measles outbreaks occurring in New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. To date the epidemic in Samoa has killed 62 people. Of Samoa's population of 200,000, more than 4,000 people are infected – 1 in 50.

Unvaccinated travellers are at particular risk of contracting this highly contagious illness – both in transit and during their stay overseas.

Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. For travellers heading overseas, the advice is simple – check your measles immunisations are up-to-date before departure.

People aged 20-53 may need a MMR booster vaccination as they are likely to have only received a single dose of vaccine recommended at the time. Two doses of MMR are now known to be required for optimal immunity.

Western Australians over 53 are usually immune to measles because they had the illness as children.

Recent measles cases in Western Australia were traced back to people who had travelled overseas and who had received only one dose of the MMR vaccine previously.

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.

If you're aged 20-53 and haven't already received two measles vaccinations, see your GP, Aboriginal Medical Service, travel clinic or community health immunisation clinic for your free vaccination (consultation fees may apply).

Read more about measles and the MMR vaccine.