For Northland mum Sue-Ann Nesbit, vaccinating her children at a free clinic was a no-brainer.

The mother of five from Whangārei says the risk of not vaccinating is too great, given Northland's close proximity to Auckland where a measles epidemic is raging.

The number of confirmed cases in Auckland stands at 877 or 83 per cent of the 1051 cases throughout New Zealand. As at yesterday, the number of confirmed cases in Northland was 34.

Nesbit took her son Ella, 3, and 18-month-old daughter Tawera for MMR vaccination at the Child Wellbeing Hub, a free drop-in clinic, run by the Northland District Health Board on Commerce St in Whangārei.


She said the drop-in clinic was convenient for her family as trying to get an appointment with a GP for more than one person was difficult.

"It's pretty scary how quickly measles spreads with a simple cough. The actual bug stays in the air which I think is scary," Nesbit said.

"Parents need to have their children immunised. It's just not worth not having it done. I guess parents think how children will react to vaccines but the short term pain for long term gain is worth it," she said.

Her 13-year-old son competed at a schools' basketball tournament in Auckland last weekend and Nesbit said it helped that he was already immunised before leaving Whangārei.

The source of measles for all of these cases originated in the Auckland region either from visiting and acquiring measles there or being exposed to measles by visitors from Auckland – with local spread to others.

Of the 12 new measles cases in Northland since August 22, seven were from Kerikeri/Kawakawa areas, three from Kaipara and two from Whangārei.

Four patients were between the ages of 15 and 30, three in the 5 to 14 age group, the same number were below 15 months and two were from 15 months to 4 years old.

Those below the age of 15 months were too young to be immunised, two children were not immunised on medical advice while seven were old enough to have a jab but did not.


Northland DHB has seen an increase in the uptake of MMR vaccines but the numbers were not available yesterday.

Spokeswoman Paula Martin said Northland DHB has not been advised of any GP practices running low on stock and the supplier has confirmed sufficient stock was available to meet orders.

"We have been working alongside Mahitahi Hauora since May this year to increase the uptake of MMR immunisation for those eligible in a variety of settings, including GP practices."

She said although a measles outbreak has not been declared in Northland, our geographical location to Auckland, travel, school holidays and the recent sporting events put those not immunised at risk.

"Measles is highly infectious and all our latest cases have a direct link to an Auckland case."

An outbreak is confirmed by the medical officer of health and the Ministry of Health, depending on various factors such as the number of cases, population numbers and whether cases were linked or isolated.

The free drop-in clinic on Commerce St runs between 8.30am to 4pm on Tuesday and Thursday. No appointment is needed.