On the same day as Northland's 47th case of measles was confirmed, Whangārei MP Dr Shane Reti vowed to hold the Government responsible for any Northlander who contracted the disease because they could not be immunised.

A nationwide shortage of the MMR vaccine — a situation Reti said the Minister of Health denied last week even as GPs were having to turn children away — has been eased this week following a shipment of 52,000 doses.

''I will hold this Government to account for every Northlander who is turned away from a measles vaccine because of [a] shortage,'' Reti said.

However, with the tap turned on again GPs and other clinics can at least now offer at-risk children the jab that could prevent measles.


Little Pippa Southee was in line for hers last week, on her fourth birthday, when her appointment had to be re-scheduled because Raumanga Medical Centre in Whangārei was among thousands of practices nationwide with no vaccines.

Pippa had her jab yesterday, much to the relief of her mother Jess Southee. Her children have all been kept up to date with immunisations, she said.

Pippa's older sisters Leah and Ivy are school-aged and Carly, 10 months, is too young yet to have the vaccine.

''It is a worry that measles is out there,'' Southee said.

Reti has also criticised health authorities for not emphasising the extent of the problem in Northland.

Seven new cases came to light in the region last week, a Northland District Health Board (NDHB) spokeswoman said.

The 47 patients have ranged in age from 6 to 56, with eight of them needing hospitalisation, including three who were admitted to ICU.

Reti said a Ministry of Health table shows that among nine separate ''outbreaks'' in New Zealand between January and July, there was one in Northland in May involving a chain of 18 cases.


That outbreak was considered to be over in July, after 42 consecutive days - or two measles incubation periods - of no more cases related to that same strain.

''An unbelievable nine cases of measles outbreaks in New Zealand this year and, as suspected, Northland has had a measles outbreak back in May. I don't recall any formal public notification of that as we were all saying Northland would be the next region off the rank,'' Reti said.

He said is still waiting for confirmation there will be enough vaccinations available to cover everyone who needs them.

Dr Simon Baker, locum Northland Medical Officer of Health, said there was now enough of the vaccine available to focus on the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule - children 12 to 15 months and under 5, ''until further notice''.

There are 1130 children in that age bracket who are due for their scheduled MMR shots within the next three months.

NDHB clinics for 15-month and 4-year-olds are being held in Whangārei, at 22b Commerce St on Tuesday and Thursdays from 8.30am until 4pm, and at Kaitaia Hospital Whare on Thursdays from 12.45pm until 4pm.

There has been a noticeable uptake of MMR vaccination across Northland and the DHB is working closely with Mahitahi Hauora to co-ordinate vaccine supply to general practices, Baker said.

Regarding Reti's criticism, he said Northland is experiencing an increase in measles cases, almost all of which are linked to the Auckland outbreak, and public health officials are responding as appropriate.

As of yesterday, 1151 of New Zealand's 1384 confirmed cases were in Auckland.

Parents are warned against taking their children to Auckland or overseas until at least two weeks after their shots. However, infants aged six to 15 months who will travel to areas where there are serious measles outbreaks can have the MMR vaccine.

Pregnant women should not get immunised against measles, and, because measles used to be very common, people over the age of 50 are considered immune through earlier contact.