Auckland adults in need of a measles vaccine may have to wait as "unprecedented demand" has forced health officials to prioritise the immunisation of kids under 5 and other vulnerable groups.
The Auckland DHBs have released a shared statement stating that those between the ages of 30 and 50 are not a priority as they "carefully manage the current supply of MMR across the region", including its share of 52,000 doses that recently arrived in New Zealand.
Another 100,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the coming months.
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"We have informed Auckland general practices that most of our current vaccine must be used to give babies and children their scheduled 12-month and four-year MMR vaccinations," the statement reads.
"Children are most seriously affected by measles and our first priority is to protect them.
"General Practitioners (GPs) can also use their clinical judgement to provide vaccine to people aged 5-29 who are more vulnerable in this outbreak."
In the current outbreak, measles is spreading among Pasifika and Māori youth and high numbers of these groups have needed hospital care.
"These groups are a priority for GPs to consider vaccinating based on their clinical judgement. GPs can also use their clinical judgement to vaccinate babies aged 6 months to 12 months.
"People aged 30-50 are currently not a priority for vaccination. However, clinical judgement may be needed on a case-by-case basis. Once we have more vaccine in stock we will be able to provide vaccinations for those 30-50 years who want to be vaccinated."
The statement acknowledged it might be a concern for those who had to wait.
"However we want to reassure people that the Ministry of Health and PHARMAC have advised us that an additional 100,000 doses of vaccine have been secured for New Zealand. We expect this vaccine to arrive in the next few months.
"It is very difficult for any doctor or nurse to ask a patient to wait for a vaccination, but it is essential we work together to manage our supplies very carefully – so that we have MMR available for babies and young children.
"We thank the public for their patience and ask them to understand that their general practice is doing all that they can to protect the most vulnerable in our community."
Temporary priorities for MMR vaccine in Auckland
• General practices have been asked to keep most of their vaccine for children aged under five years.
• GPs may also vaccinate some people aged under 30 who have not had any MMR vaccinations, based on their clinical judgement.
• In this outbreak, Pasifika and Māori people are more seriously affected by measles than other groups and are a priority for vaccination.
As of yesterday afternoon, there have been 1384 confirmed cases of measles across New Zealand since the start of the year, 1151 of these confirmed cases are in the Auckland region.