In the midst of any childhood disease outbreak it’s sometimes hard for parents to get all the facts they need to keep their children safe. We understand that and want to make it easier for you to know how to keep your wee ones measles free.
Here are some key facts for you:
1. Vaccination with the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best protection against measles and the only way to prevent the disease. Children usually have 2 doses of MMR – one dose at 15 months of age and a second at 4 years of age. During the outbreak the age has been lowered to 12 months. Also babies aged 6–11 months can have their MMR immunisation early if there is a high risk of exposure to measles (for example, travel to places with serious outbreaks).
2. Some children can't be vaccinated. This may be because they are too young or too sick. You can help protect them by keeping the rest of your family’s vaccinations up to date. When enough people in the community are vaccinated, the spread of a disease slows down or stops completely. If enough people are vaccinated, the disease can't spread. This is called herd immunity.
3.If you can't vaccinate your child, the best way to protect them during an outbreak is to try to prevent them from coming into contact with the virus. You can help do this by making sure you:
Wash your hands. Just as you would to prevent germs at any time, use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds then dry well. Remind others in your home, or anyone who is near your baby, to do the same.
Limit your child's exposure to crowds, other children, and anyone with a cold.
Go germ-free. Disinfect objects and surfaces in your home regularly.
Feed your baby breastmilk, if possible. It has unique antibodies to prevent and fight infections.
Vaccinate on time. Vaccination given on time is the only way to prevent measles. Make sure any other children or household members are vaccinated. If you aren't sure if you have had the vaccination, it is not harmful to have another.
Phone your doctor. If you think your baby or child may have measles call first before going to the clinic, to ask about how to keep others safe.
4. A person with measles is infectious from 5 days before and until 5 days after the rash appears (about 10 days in total). During this time the infected person needs to stay away from other people; children need to be kept home from school and adults from work, do not invite other children or visitors to your house.
5. Measles can cause serious complications including diarrhoea, ear infections, pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). About 1 in 10 people with measles will need hospital treatment. Measles during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, early labour and low birth-weight babies.
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