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Australia Measles outbreak prompts Brisbane parents to consider early vaccination for babies

13:26  14 january  2020
13:26  14 january  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

Measles alert as five patients are diagnosed with the deadly disease in Sydney - and authorities warn more cases could be on the way

  Measles alert as five patients are diagnosed with the deadly disease in Sydney - and authorities warn more cases could be on the way All five sufferers first developed symptoms between Christmas and New Year's Day with NSW Health warning that other people may be infected. © Provided by Daily Mail NSW Health is urging people to be alert for measles symptoms after five people who hadn't travelled outside Sydney were diagnosed with the serious disease (stock image) Those diagnosed with measles had visited a number of locations across Sydney from December 26 to January 2 including Little Bay beach, Hyde Park, Maroubra, Macquarie Fields and Bankstown.

Queensland is experiencing its worst measles outbreak in two decades and it is prompting some parents to consider earlier vaccination for their children.

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a woman looking at the camera: Angela Perks says she got mixed messages about vaccinating her son Samuel early. (ABC News: Talissa Siganto)© Provided by ABC Health Angela Perks says she got mixed messages about vaccinating her son Samuel early. (ABC News: Talissa Siganto) In the nine months since Samuel was born, his mother Angela Perks has followed his immunisation schedule down to the minute, but she is worried it is not enough.

After a "petrifying" measles outbreak in Queensland, she is now too scared to take him out of the house and is seriously considering vaccinating him earlier.

Last year was Queensland's worst for measles in more than two decades, with health data revealing 74 cases diagnosed in 2019, more than five times the average from the previous four years.

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The measles vaccine is not usually given to children until they are a year old. But current parents of babies have suddenly grown acutely aware, sharing information on playgrounds, in pediatricians’ offices and on Pediatricians have been lobbied by parents to administer the measles vaccine early .

As measles outbreak grows, a state lawmaker says requiring vaccines is "about the rights of other children The National Vaccine Information Center, which opposes mandatory vaccination laws, said it It occurred despite an earlier law that required parents to talk to a doctor to opt out of vaccines .

Two weeks into 2020, the highly contagious disease is showing no signs of slowing down, with the first case of the year already confirmed on the Gold Coast.

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Measles outbreak prompt state lawmakers to… Vaccination proponents and anti- vaccination activists are watching to see whether some states will follow California, which Nearly every state has carved out religious exemptions for parents who wish not to vaccinate their children (West Virginia

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Ms Perks, who has lived in Brisbane all her life, said the number of recent diagnoses emerging in south-east Queensland was "really scary".

"Every year you hear about one or two cases popping up but it feels like literally every week there's another measles alert coming out," she said.

The dramatic spike in cases prompted Ms Perks to consult several health professionals about immunising her son sooner, but she found they were "on the fence" about what she should do.

"I just wanted a definitive answer … I'm getting mixed messages," she said.

"You just love your kids and you just want to do right by them."

Early jab 'usually not necessary'

Australian Medical Association of Queensland (AMAQ) president Dilip Dhupelia acknowledged it had been a "very bad year" in terms of measles cases in Queensland, but he said it did not warrant earlier vaccination.

"We have national guidelines that are based on world's best research," he said.

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Insufficient rates of vaccination leave children vulnerable to measles brought into the country by Health authorities are pleading for parents to vaccinate their children against measles as more Most recent measles cases have been in the Ipswich area, west of Brisbane . Young said most of

The move comes amid a measles outbreak in Europe. German kindergartens must notify health authorities about parents who fail to prove they have been counselled on child vaccination , the Health Ministry says, ahead of a law set to be passed next week.

"There's plenty of evidence that babies in the first 12 months of life have sufficient immunogenicity acquired from their mothers.

"It's usually not necessary to have the injection before then but there may be special circumstances."

Under the National Immunisation Program, it is recommended children have two doses of the measles vaccine — first when they are 12 months old and then when they are 18 months old.

But there are exceptions

Travelling to places where measles is endemic can be enough to prompt doctors to vaccinate babies as young as six months old.

Another Brisbane mother, Louise Grimbergen, said getting her six-month-old son immunised early was a "no brainer" because her family was planning to visit a country experiencing an outbreak.

"It was really about putting the health of my child above everything else and I'll do whatever I can to protect him," she said.

But Ms Grimbergen said the surge of cases in Queensland had also affected her at home.

"It's totally changed the way I live my day-to-day life," she said.

"I don't take him out to shops anymore … it's really quite scary. I now limit his activities and [time in] large crowded spaces."

Dr Dhupelia said while he understood the increased fears, keeping children "housebound" was not necessary.

"Parents are concerned and the concerns are reasonable — measles is a deadly disease, it kills babies," he said.

"But the chances of you getting measles within Australia is not very high unless you've been in contact with somebody who's had measles."

Of the 74 Queenslanders diagnosed in 2019, fewer than 10 per cent were children under the age of five.

Dr Dhupelia said parents could be confident babies under the recommended vaccination age would be protected, but ultimately it was up to individual families to decide what was best.

"This is a discussion that really needs to be had with your family doctor," he said.

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