THE DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER PRIMARY SCHOOLS SHOULD MAKE IMMUNISATION AGAINST MEASLES COMPULSORY IS A BIG ONE.
When a parent is apprehensive about immunising their child for measles, mumps & rubella, their fear is usually around the risk of autism. This is a medically unfounded suspicion - to do so could be more dangerous and put their child more at risk.
If you or your child are showing any of the symptoms of measles, I recommend seeing your local GP. While there is no cure (an affected person must wait for the infection to pass), your doctor can assist you with the prevention of the secondary infections associated with measles, mumps & rubella, including pneumonia.
If you’re not sure if you have been vaccinated, have a chat to your GP. Here are the facts.
TIP #1: MEASLES ARE HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS
The airborne measles virus is transmissible via coughing or sneezing. Measles is caught by 9 out of 10 non-immune people who come into contact with an infected person. In a close-contact classroom environment, this is a staggering statistic indeed.
TIP #2: THE SYMPTOMS ARE SIGNIFICANT
Symptoms of measles include high fever, runny nose, inflamed eyes and most notably, a red rash which starts on the f ace and spreads out to the rest of the body. The rash can develop 10 – 12 days after exposure to the virus and last for 7 – 10 days. An infected person is most contagious 4-5 days before and after the appearance of the rash.
TIP #3: INFANTS ARE AT RISK
One of the major risks of measles is for infants who are too young to be immunised who may come into contact with the virus. This was the case in 2014 when an 11 month old was affected. At it‘s worst, the virus can be fatal to infants - and can even cause birth deformities, if contracted by pregnant women.
TIP #4: CONTROL IS KEY
In 2014, a massive outbreak of measles occurred at a Melbourne primary school. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health released a report concerning the outbreak, suggesting that schools be fined for not keeping detailed vaccination records, which would make controlling an outbreak more effective.
TIP #5: POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
Victorian childcare centres have implemented a ‘no jab, no play’ policy that aims to prevent pre-school aged children spreading measles. I believe it would be worthwhile implementing a similar rule in primary schools. This process of ‘herd immunisation’ means that even those who medically can’t be immunised will be less at risk of exposure by those around them.