Immunisation curbs measles outbreak

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Since early June more than 400 people in Kerikeri and Kaikohe have been vaccinated to prevent measles.
Since early June more than 400 people in Kerikeri and Kaikohe have been vaccinated to prevent measles.

Extra immunisation clinics in early June helped prevent new cases of measles in Northland after an outbreak in May, health officials say.

There were six confirmed cases until then, which Northland medical officer of health Clair Mills put down to the immunisation coverage in teenagers being too low to stop the spread of measles.

Since then, immunisation clinics the Northland District Health Board organised in Kerikeri and Kaikohe vaccinated more than 400 people between the ages of 12 and 25, and seasonal workers, with no new cases reported. GP clinics also reported giving out a higher than usual number of mumps and rubella jabs (MMR), Dr Mills said.

"Teenagers have historically had low immunisation rate because when they were young they had 70 to 80 per cent immunisation. General practices continue to see an increased coverage and that's important because ... we are vulnerable to new cases that are imported from outside New Zealand," Dr Mills said.

The community clinics helped staff update public health records of people over 10 years old who were not on the National Immunisation Register which came into existence in 2005.

Northland MMR coverage is approaching 90 per cent. Babies under 15 months are at risk because they haven't had MMR shots yet.

Anyone displaying symptoms of measles should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice. Northland DHB also has a Measles Hotline on 0800 222 030.

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