Following advice from an immunisation Expert Advisory Group and feedback from general practices, the Ministry of Health is asking general practices and PHOs to target measles vaccinations to the most vulnerable.
“There's been a huge public response to the current measles situation, and this has meant an unprecedented demand for vaccinations from the wider population,” says Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.
“General practices have responded extremely well to this demand but have reported that in some places, vaccines aren't reaching those most in need of protection, including children aged 15 months (12 months in Auckland).
“There have been 160,000 vaccines given so far in 2019, this compares to 90,000 vaccines given during the same period in 2018.
“Children aged two years and under are more likely to be hospitalised because of measles so it’s imperative they're vaccinated,” says Dr Bloomfield. “First and foremost we need to protect our children.”
The advice comes off the back of an immunisation Expert Advisory Group recommendation to focus on ensuring the groups most affected by the current measles outbreak can be vaccinated to protect them and the wider community and help prevent further spread of measles.
This means the first priority for vaccinations should be on:
- ensuring all children across NZ receive their vaccines on time at 15 months (12 months of age in Auckland) and 4 years to maintain the national childhood immunisation schedule.
- vaccinating groups who are most affected by the outbreak in the Auckland area, namely children under 4 years of age, those aged 15-29 years and Pacific peoples within these groups.
- proactively contacting children aged up to 14 years who have not had a single dose of vaccine to get vaccinated.
The priority groups for vaccination are being reviewed regularly based first on priority children then on who it is most important to target in local cases.
A shipment of 52,000 vaccines is due in New Zealand this weekend and will be distributed where needed from next week.
The Ministry of Health has provided advice for parents in the Measles section.