Public health authorities in the Bay of Plenty are urging continued vigilance around measles.
Following up measles cases and close contacts to contain the spread of the disease, and maintaining the national Childhood Immunisation Schedule, continue to be the priority for local health authorities.
Toi Te Ora medical officer of health Dr Jim Miller said while cases of measles over the past month or so have been predominantly in the Auckland region, measles has been reported in cities and towns across the whole of New Zealand, including in the Bay of Plenty.
"We have had cases in several of our local towns and cities during the last few weeks, there is a large outbreak in Auckland, and many people in our area travel to and from Auckland and overseas. It is therefore important that everyone is aware of the current risk of measles, wherever you may live," Dr Miller said.
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"Many people in our communities are already immune, through MMR immunisation, previous illness, or age (those over 50). However, vaccine coverage in previous years has not been high enough.
"Distribution of vaccine is being carefully managed, so the Ministry of Health is working with district health boards to prioritise vaccine supply and ensure our most vulnerable groups are protected," Dr Miller said.
In the Bay of Plenty and Lakes DHB areas, priority groups for MMR vaccination are:
- Children at 15 months and 4 years
- Infants aged between 12 and 15 months who are travelling to areas where there are serious measles outbreaks – including Auckland.
If anyone in your family falls into these current priority groups, please contact your general practice to arrange for the MMR vaccination.
If you are concerned about your infant aged 6–11 months being at high risk of exposure due to travel, you should speak to your GP.
"More vaccine has been confirmed for New Zealand but until it arrives and is distributed, practices will be operating waiting lists for those outside of the priority groups," Dr Miller said.