Waikato measles update on cases, vaccine and protecting our children on time
We have updated our measles page: www.waikatodhb.health.nz/measles. Please note, updates will be frequent on this page due to the measles outbreak in Auckland and now in the Waikato (18 cases since 1 August) as well as the limited national vaccine supply.
The most recent update nationally, is the priority for limited vaccines are for childhood scheduled immunisations and ensuring they are delivered on time.
- Due to this current outbreak of measles, children in Waikato can have their first MMR at 12 months, then second dose at 4 years. This is a change from the usual time for the first MMR which is normally given at 15 months. Our priority is Māori and Pacific children.
- For those children catching up, the first dose is normally followed by a gap of at least 4 weeks before the second dose is given. Please also check with the nurse who normally looks after your child for immunisation advice.
- Adults born after 1 January 1969 who have not been vaccinated, or cannot show if they are vaccinated or immune, are recommended to catch up once supply is sufficient (due to limited vaccine supply, this is not currently available).
- If people have to travel to Auckland or overseas, please refer to the Ministry’s website for the most recent advice.
- People travelling to Auckland should ensure that they are vaccinated or immune to measles. If you are not vaccinated or not sure of your status, then try to avoid travel.
Given there is limited vaccine our highest priority for scheduled childhood vaccinations are Māori and Pacific, who are currently the most affected in Waikato’s and Auckland’s measles outbreak. By focusing limited supply on this group, we can help reduce the risk of further spread in the community.
Please see our measles website for an example letter that a contact of a measles case would receive. In this letter it has a table that helps people answer: How do I know whether I or my child is immune?
The Ministry has also put out a statement that additional MMR stock is secured for New Zealand and copied here (we hope this additional vaccine will enable more people to be included in priority groups able to access vaccine, we’ll update this as able):
Media release - Ministry of Health
18 September 2019
The Ministry of Health and PHARMAC are pleased to confirm that, subject to final regulatory approval, an additional 100,000 doses of MMR vaccine have been secured for New Zealand.
"There has never been such strong demand for MMR vaccine. So far this year 175, 000 vaccines have been given, which compares to 94,000 doses for the same period last year. An additional 52,000 doses of MMR vaccine arrived in New Zealand this week, and processes are being fast-tracked to ensure additional stock is secured and distributed as quickly as possible," says Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
PHARMAC has been working with suppliers to seek additional supplies of MMR vaccine. Vaccine manufacturing lead times can be lengthy and other countries have reported measles outbreaks which is increasing demand which is in turn limiting supply globally. However, PHARMAC is confident that more MMR vaccine will be sourced and delivered to New Zealand later this year.
We hope to confirm time-frames for arrival in the coming days.
"Due to this unprecedented demand, we are asking New Zealanders to continue to be patient so they can ensure the vaccine can reach those who need it the most, says Dr Bloomfield.
"Children under two years old are those most likely to be hospitalised because of measles. That’s why it is a priority to maintain the national Childhood Immunisation Schedule and ensure all children receive their MMR vaccinations on time at 15 months and 4 years (12 months in Auckland)," says Dr Bloomfield.
"In addition, Auckland’s three DHBs are also focusing on ensuring the vaccine reaches the groups who are most affected by the outbreak.
"Given the large number of cases in Auckland we expect to see other cases of measles being reported elsewhere in New Zealand. We are asking DHBs to try and vaccinate susceptible close contacts within 3 days of their first exposure to measles when possible.
"It’s worth remembering that after one dose of the MMR vaccine, about 95% of people are protected from measles. After the second dose 99% of people are protected. Also, because measles used to be very common, people over the age of 50 are considered immune and don’t need an immunisation.
The signs of measles are a fever, runny nose, cough, sore red eyes or rash.
For the latest updates please check in daily at: www.waikatodhb.health.nz/measles