Following reports earlier this week about an RMIT international student contracting the highly contagious disease, international students have been warned to stay on high alert.
“Anyone developing symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their general practitioner or hospital first and tell them that they may have measles so that appropriate steps can be taken to avoid contact with other patients,” advises Victoria’s deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton.
Recent outbreaks in South East Asia have also been a cause of concern especially for international students who have traveled within that region.
Students should take note of the vaccinations they have received when they were younger and ensure that they are protected against such diseases. These diseases are not only a danger to yourself but the people around you as well.
Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) by the Victorian Government, all international students residing in Victoria may be eligible for free vaccinations if they were born after 1966.
What is measles
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that causes a person to become ill. Regular symptoms include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as high fevers, flu, and cough
- Conjunctivitis – Sore eyes
- Koplik’s spots – Red/Blue spots inside your mouth
- Skin Rashes
The virus is spread through mucus and saliva that stays alive for several hours. Contaminated surfaces can also spread the virus so students should take extra care in washing their hands and avoid touching their face, in particular, the nose and mouth areas.
While measles disease is treatable and most people make a full recovery, the disease can lead to complications that in worst cases become fatal. Recently, a report from Al Jazeera claimed health officials believe that over 130 people in the Philippines have died due to contracting measles.
Vaccination against measles
The best way to prevent illness is to prevent it. Fortunately, students are able to get immunised against measles and for most, this happens during childhood starting at 12 months.
The vaccination comes in two doses and provides 99 percent immunity against the virus. There are two types of vaccination – MMR and MMRV.
MMR vaccines protect against measles, mumps, and rubella. This vaccine is recommended for those aged 14 years and older.
The MMRV vaccine is more comprehensive, designed to protect against measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.
Where can you get it
For students who require vaccination, consult your GP who will then be able to administer the vaccination. While the vaccination may be free, a small fee may be charged for administration.
Students are advised to check with their OSHC provider if they are covered for clinical administrations of vaccinations.
For more information, visit the Better Health Channel website. To check your eligibility for a free vaccination, visit the Victorian Government Health page. Students who suspect they have contracted the illness should call a doctor or student welfare officer on campus to report and wait for advice on what to do next.