Australia was declared free of measles in 2014, yet this year alone 92 people have been diagnosed with the contagious viral illness.
The National Centre for Immunisation Research (NCIRS) has warned that those born between 1966 and 1994 are at greater risk of contracting measles.
“While we’ve had the measles vaccine in Australia since 1968, a two-dose program was only introduced in 1992 with a brief school-based catch-up program from 1993 to 1994 offering schoolchildren a second dose,” it said in a recent statement.
“For those who missed out on the school program, catch-up vaccinations were given on an ad hoc basis via GP clinics.”
And because of this, people aged in their 20s to early 50s are at higher risk of getting measles.
President of the Australian Medical Association NSW Kean-Seng Lim also explained that during those dates there was no electronic record of immunisations and no central registry.
“The central registry came in the later part of that time period,” Dr Lim told news.com.au
WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW IF I GOT THE SHOTS?
Dr Lim, who is also a GP in Western Sydney, said the best way to find if you have been immunised is to contact the medical practise or doctor who treated you at the time.
“If someone is uncertain whether they have been fully vaccinated or if they can’t obtain documented evidence, then they may be at higher risk of getting measles now,” he said.
The term “fully” vaccinated means to have had two doses of the MMR vaccine.
The NCIRS also advised that you might have a copy of your personal vaccination records at home (blue book) or your parents may have this at home (depending on your age). Another way to check is on your travel vaccination card (yellow).
IS IT SAFE TO GET ANOTHER JAB
People have been warned not assume they have received two doses of vaccine, due to changing vaccination schedules during this period.
“We would recommended that they should just get another dose of the vaccine,” Dr Lim said, adding that there is no risk associated with getting another set of shots.
“If you are not fully vaccinated or if you’re uncertain and unable to find out, the safest thing to do is have another shot as there’s no harm even if you may have had it before.”
LIKELIHOOD OF CONTRACTING IT, IF YOU DON’T GET A SHOT
According to the NCIRS if you are not immune to the virus, through vaccination or past infection, the chance of becoming ill after being near someone with measles is 90 per cent. “An infected person is contagious from the first day of symptoms (fever, cough and runny nose),” an NCIRS spokesman told news.com.au
“These general symptoms start about four days before the rash develops, meaning contagious people can spread the virus even before they have been diagnosed with measles.
The vaccine is not free in South Australia.