Topic: Health

Measles count up, vaccine stocks low

updated By Te Ao - Māori News
  • South Island

There are now 16 confirmed cases of measles in the Canterbury region.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) say the latest case confirmed today is a male in his 40s.

The CDHB say the numbers are likely to rise further in the coming days and weeks.

Three cases were reported on Tuesday 26 February by the DHB, by Friday 1 March that had increased to five cases. Seven cases by the following Monday 4 March, doubled to 14 cases by the Thursday (March 7), Friday ended with 15 cases, today it is 16.

Vaccine supplies have been low in the region and have been outsourced from Auckland to address the need.

Measles is known to be a serious, highly infectious disease which can be life-threatening.  The CDHB say that unimmunised people who come within two metres of an infectious person have a 90% chance of contracting the disease.

The best protection is for people born after 1969 to have had two MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations.

People in their late teens and early 20s are considered at risk, says Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon Pink, because a higher than usual proportion of that age group didn’t have their scheduled MMR vaccinations.

“Anyone in this age band who isn’t certain they have had both MMRs should contact their General Practice team to arrange for an MMR vaccination – the vaccination and the appointment to have it is free,” he says.

General practice teams have been asked to prioritise the following groups for MMR immunisation:

  • People who are not up-to-date according to the schedule for their age group
  • Children and young adults (age range 5 years to 28 years) who are either not immunised or who have only received one MMR dose to date.
  • Children 12 months to 5 years who have never received any doses of MMR.
  • The four-year-old MMR can be brought forward to no sooner than four weeks after the previous MMR.
  • Adults aged 29 to 50 (this group only received one dose of measles vaccine)

More information about measles is available at https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles and http://www.immune.org.nz.