By Grant Jacobs 25/11/2019

The Ministry of Health has announced that “people under the age of 50 travelling from New Zealand to Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji” are now on the list of national priorities for MMR vaccination.

Given the outbreaks of measles in Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji, the Ministry of Health is asking primary care providers to ensure vaccinations are up-to-date for any individual (aged 50 and under) who indicates they will be travelling to one of these areas, or any country that has an active outbreak of measles.

We also recommend infants aged six to 11 months travelling to an outbreak area have one dose of MMR. Please remember that any child vaccinated before 12 months of age will still need two further doses of MMR.

All people need to be vaccinated at least two weeks before travel.

More generally they advise that,

People who aren’t immune and have early symptoms of measles (fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes and/or a rash) should not travel.

Similarly they are asking that,

People intending to travel to New Zealand should be fully immunised for measles. If you need additional vaccination, it should be administered at least two weeks before arriving in New Zealand.

Current reports say there are 25 deaths now in Samoa, with 20 children in critical condition in intensive care. The report goes on to say that 144 cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours. All but one death are from children younger than five years old (11 less than one year old).

EDIT: The original headline had ‘required’ in it. I have revised this to ‘prioritised’. Some of us would wish it were required, however.


I believe the MMR vaccination is funded if you have not previously had this vaccine. (Please verify with your clinic.)

Long travel distance is a privilege. I’ve considered exploring vaccine requirements for long distance travel for several months. For some illnesses, like measles, disease is essentially a ‘global village’ type of phenomena in that it can easily spread internationally. We’ve lost valuable ground in eradicating measles over the last few years. Among the issues are low rates of vaccination in some areas. A few noisy voices discouraging use of vaccines haven’t helped. Travel requirements might reduce (but not eliminate) the development of outbreaks.

I can’t help but wonder if ‘prioritising’ is as much as the MoH can do without government stepping in.

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This royalty-free image is from a project aimed at offering better photographs of vaccination. It’s a joint effect of SELF magazine and the American Society of Pediatrics.

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