Residents in NSW are being urged to ensure they are fully vaccinated for measles before they travel overseas after 36 people have been diagnosed with the disease in NSW since December last year.

The majority of cases have been from travellers who have entered or re-entered Australia and unknowingly been infected with measles while overseas.

Outbreaks of measles in popular tourist destinations means the risk of the disease being imported into Australia remains high and unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated travellers are at risk of exposure.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease that is vaccine-preventable. It is spread through the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.  

Measles virus can stay in the air for short periods of time (15 to 30 minutes), so if people enter a room after an infected person, they could still become infected.

Two doses of measles vaccine provide a lifelong protection against measles in 99 out of 100 vaccinated people. Make sure you and your family are fully protected from measles before you travel and if you are travelling with an infant younger than 12 months, see your GP.

NSW Health is urging travellers to be vigilant before they travel and ensure they are fully protected. Anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two doses or had measles is eligible for the free vaccine. If you’re unsure whether you’ve had two, it’s safe to have a dose.

“With increasing travel from Australia to popular overseas destinations and a large multicultural community who regularly travel back to their country of origin, the risk of measles remains high in our community,” said Dr Vicky Sheppeard, NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases.

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