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Measles treatments and prevention

2-minute read

How is measles treated?

  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and plenty to drink (warm drinks will ease the cough).
  • Give them paracetamol to relieve the discomfort and fever.
  • Put petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) around their lips to protect their skin.
  • If their eyelids are crusty, gently wash them with warm water.

If your child is having trouble breathing, is coughing a lot or seems drowsy, see your doctor urgently. If your child has a serious case of measles or develops complications, they may need to be treated in hospital.

How is measles prevented?

In Australia, children are immunised against measles. The vaccine is given in combination with the rubella and mumps vaccine. This is known as the 'MMR' vaccine.

Your child will receive the first immunisation dose of MMR at 12 months and a second dose at 18 months with the MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) vaccine. If the MMRV dose is not received at 18 months, MMR is given again at 4 years.

Immunising your child with the recommended two doses provides them with 99% immunity against measles. If your child isn’t immunised and you think they have been exposed to measles, it's important to see your doctor as soon as possible – within 72 hours.

Visit Immunise Australia to see the National Immunisation Program Schedule.

Vaccinations for adults

Adults born between 1966 and 1994 may not be fully vaccinated against measles. Most children during this time would have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but may not have received the follow-up dose that is now recommended.

People born before 1966 are generally considered to be naturally immune to measles because of the high likelihood that had the virus during their childhood.

If you were born during or after 1966 and are not sure if you have had two doses of measles vaccine, you can see your doctor about catch-up vaccinations. Most states and territories provide these catch-up vaccinations for free.

If you have measles symptoms

Call your doctor if you have any measles symptoms. Let the clinic know about your symptoms so they can consider whether you may be infectious.

Anyone who suspects they might have measles should stay home and should not attend school, child care or work. You might need to be isolated (at home or in hospital) to avoid spreading the highly infectious disease to other people.

Last reviewed: April 2019

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