Measles, MMR and Legal Information Update


Website editor’s note:  The following information bulletin is designed to help families and school staff affected by the recent cases of measles in schools in the Waikato and Horowhenua given the school closures and concern about the measles cases.

It may also be of interest to other people who are living in an area (such as Northland) where there are currently reported measles cases and would like more information about measles and MMR vaccination.

This information primarily is designed to help the following groups of people:

  • People who may have been exposed to measles and are looking for information about measles and measles treatments.
  • People who are considering MMR vaccination and would like information about the vaccine.
  • People who want information about the legal basis for the exclusion of some unvaccinated people from schools while they are considered to be infectious.

Information about measles and measles treatments:


In people who are usually healthy, measles is usually a mild-moderate illness.


The initial symptoms are often “cough and cold” type symptoms and may include a runny nose, cough, red eyes (viral conjunctivitis) and an elevated body temperature (fever).  (Please note that during this period of the illness, and until at three days after the emergence of the rash, people who have measles can easily spread the virus to others.  People who are immunocompromised remain infectious for longer; please seek professional advice about the risk of transmitting measles to others if you are in this situation.)


The rash of measles generally appears 3-5 days after the other symptoms. Diarrhoea and vomiting can also be measles symptoms in some cases. The first couple of days of emergence of the rash is usually when the patient is sickest; thereafter their condition should improve.


The conventional treatment for measles is bed rest and “supportive care”, including plenty of fluids to ensure that a feverish patient does not become dehydrated.  (Occasionally IV fluids are needed.)


The website states that “Fever management with standard antipyretics is appropriate.”  However, please note that giving medication to reduce the body temperature has the potential to reduce the response of the immune system and therefore prolong or worsen illness. (See: )


Supplemental vitamin A may be given to people who have measles and in fact in recommended by the WHO for all children with measles. (Information about dosages of vitamin A for children with measles may be found at this link: – Please note that these are large dosages of vitamin A and designed for short term use, not long term use.)

People who have a significant immune deficiency may be offered measles immunoglobulin as part of a plan to prevent or treat measles.

If someone with measles develops a bacterial ear infection or a secondary bacterial chest infection, antibiotics can be used to treat these complications.

Other treatments that have been used for people with measles include supplementary vitamin C.  (IV vitamin C may be needed in severe cases.)

Measles is listed in Curing the Incurable by Thomas Levy, MD (ISBN 1-4010-6963-0 ) as being “Curable and Preventable” with vitamin C and includes some of Klenner’s case histories including that of an uneventful recovery of a child suffering from measles encephalitis (inflammation of the brain – which according to the NZ Ministry of Health occurs in one in 1000 people who get measles.)  Prompt treatment of encephalitis, regardless of the cause is important since the condition may result in death or survivors may be brain damaged.

IV vitamin C has also been used successfully to treat viral pneumonia which is another serious complication of measles and one that is more much more common than encephalitis. (According to the Ministry of Health, about six percent of people who develop measles develop pneumonia as a complication.)

Many New Zealanders will be familiar with the story of Waikato farmer Mr. Allan Smith who was critically ill with double  white-out pneumonia in both lungs and alive only because he was on life support.  An ECMO machine was oxygenating his blood for him.) As reported on 60 Minutes “Living Proof” Mr Smith made a complete recovery after being administered high dose intravenous vitamin C.

Other treatment options:  Vitamin D is important for resistance to infections.  Many people may have marginal or deficient levels of Vitamin D due to use of sunscreen, sun avoidance or some medical conditions.  Blood tests for vitamin D are available (although there may be a charge to the patient)  and high-dose prescription vitamin D tablets are available in NZ for people who need these.  (These tablets should be kept out of reach of children as they do not come in childproof packaging.)

Further information about measles (including the more unusual complications) and more informatione about treatments may be found at this link:

NB: Please note that the information on this section of the website is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from a doctor or other competent health professional.


Concluding comments:

While measles is usually a mild-moderate illness in usually healthy people who have good nutrition, some of the complications of measles can be life-threatening.  While the risk of disability or death from measles is generally very low in NZ, certain people are at higher risk of developing complications including babies under the age of one, people who develop measles as adults, and people who are immunocompromised, including people who are taking high dose steroids or are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

If you or your child have been in contact with someone who has measles and want to consult a doctor or other health professional, please phone ahead of your visit to the clinic so that arrangements can be made to minimise your risk of transmitting the virus to people for whom measles carries higher than normal risks.



MMR vaccination

In NZ, the current vaccine used to prevent measles is a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine which contains live “attenuated” measles, mumps and rubella viruses.

MMR vaccine is considered to be “preventive” of measles if administered “within 3 days of exposure”.

There is information  on the manufacturer’s datasheets on Medsafe’s website. (The link at which the datasheet may be accessed is  and if you type “measles” into the search box at the link above the datasheets for the MMR vaccine(s) will appear.  The vaccine most commonly used in NZ is the one with the brand name “MMRII”( Merck Sharp & Dohme (NZ) Ltd); however there is also another vaccine called Priorix (GlaxoSmithKline.) An online medical dictionary may be helpful to people who are not used to reading medical jargon.


Are you considering having a second MMR vaccination?

While current NZ Ministry of Health advice is that people should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, please note that the Ministry of Health’s Immunisation Handbook states that the second shot is recommended “because nearly all of the 5–10 percent who fail to be protected by the first dose will be protected by the second.” (Ref:

Essentially this means that 90-95% of people who receive the first MMR shot should develop sufficient of an antibody response to be considered immune to the disease so most people may not actually need to have a second MMR  vaccination.   



MMR vaccination and babies

In NZ, the first dose of MMR vaccine is not usually given until a child is 15 months old (if their parents decide that the child should receive this vaccine) and a second shot is also usually offered at age four years.

When there are measles cases in a community, MMR vaccine may be offered to younger babies

If you have a baby below the age of one year, please also note that the prescribing information for the MMR II vaccine (which is the MMR vaccine usually used in NZ) states that:

“Measles Outbreak Schedule
Infants Between 6 to 12 Months of Age

“Local health authorities may recommend measles vaccination of infants between 6 to 12 months of age in outbreak situations.
“This population may fail to respond to the components of the vaccine.
Safety and effectiveness of mumps and rubella vaccine in infants less than 12 months of age have not been established.”  [Emphasis added]


The recommendation  that babies who are vaccinated prior to the age of one year be vaccinated again at a later age is because babies receive antibodies from their mothers via the placenta while in utero, (assuming their mothers are immune) and these transplacental antibodies can persist in the baby’s body for up to a year after birth and these antibodies can interfere with the baby’s immune system’s response to MMR vaccination.


Special note for parents of daughters and female teachers and other school staff:

The MMR vaccine contains live rubella viruses so its use is contraindicated in pregnancy and pregnancy should be avoided for at least four weeks after vaccination with MMR.

Girls who have passed through puberty and women also have a higher risk of developing joint symptoms after MMR vaccination than do younger (pre-pubescent) children of both sexes and men.  The risk of joint symptoms after vaccination in women and adolescent girls after MMR vaccination can be as high as 12 – 20%. (The risk is higher for adults than it is for adolescents.) Post MMR vaccination joint symptoms usually resolve but occasionally may develop into chronic arthritis.  This risk of the vaccine is disclosed on the vaccine’s datasheet (the MMR II is often used in NZ and its datasheet is here ) but this risk may not always be mentioned by the nurse or doctor who offers the vaccination, hence it being highlighted here.

Do you need more information about the MMR vaccine?

The links to the datasheets for the MMR vaccines available in NZ are here:

A more detailed article about measles and MMR vaccine may be found at this link:

The article at the link above discusses the MMR-autism issue which is now the subject of a major new documentary about how scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control covered up research that showed an increased risk of autism after MMR vaccination for some children.  The film is called Vaxxed from Cover-up to Catastrophe.  (You can see the trailer here or find out more information about the film may be found here:

If you do not have a good internet connection there is  written information about autism-MMR cover-up at an investigative reporter’s website at this link:


Please note that the information on this section of the website is provided for educational purposes only.  It is not intended to substitute for advice about vaccination from your doctor or another competent health professional who knows your personal medical and family history and can discuss with you the possible benefits and risks of the vaccine.



Legal aspects of exclusion of unvaccinated students and some staff from schools


Under section 19 of the Education Act 1989

A school principal may preclude a student from attending school for some health reasons including if s/he may have a communicable disease.


Moreover, under the Health (Infectious and Notifiable Diseases) Regulations 1966,

Section 14 covers “Exclusion from school of patients and contacts”

“Every child and every school teacher who is suffering from, or is suspected to be suffering from, an infectious disease specified in Schedule 2 shall be excluded from school for the period of isolation shown in the second column of that schedule with respect to that disease or for such lesser period as the Medical Officer of Health shall determine.”



Schedule 2, which outlines periods of exclusion for teachers and pupils who have been “exposed to an infectious disease” may be seen below.

You can see in Schedule 2 that for measles the maximum exclusion period is 14 days because this is the incubation period for the disease.

The Health (Infectious and Notifiable Diseases) Regulations 1966 do provide for Medical Officers of Health to use their discretion and reduce the time of exclusion based on individual circumstances. (To give a theoretical example, if a week had elapsed between the diagnosis of measles in a school student and that student’s contact with other their classmates, then the exclusion period for the classmates could be reduced to seven days – because usually if someone who is not immune to measles is exposed to the virus measles they would be expected to develop symptoms of the illness within 14 days.)

The link below discusses exclusion of both pupils and teachers from a school.


Concluding Comments

In NZ, adults have the right to make free and informed decisions about medical treatments (including vaccination) and to give (or withhold) consent to vaccination as they think appropriate.

Parents have the right to make vaccination decisions on behalf of their minor (age 15 years and under) children.

For some people who are generally supportive of vaccination, the use of abortion-derived materials (“human diploid cells) in the manufacture of the MMR vaccine makes this vaccine an unacceptable option for them.

In NZ, MMR vaccine is free to people who want to be vaccinated. People who do not want to be vaccinated with the MMR vaccine (for whatever reason or reasons) are exercising a basic human right and their choice should be in this matter should be respected. Coercion is not acceptable.

Website editor’s note:

Please note that this information in this section of the website has been compiled by a non-lawyer. If you need legal advice please contact a lawyer.  (For teachers who are union members, there may be an option of obtaining support including legal advice, if necessary, via their union.)

There is a contact form at this link for people who would like to contact No Forced Vaccines at this link: