The Government is bringing in reinforcements to the fight against an Auckland measles outbreak - looking to set up vaccination stations at churches and shopping malls.

It comes as now 700 cases of the contagious disease have been confirmed in the city, as of today, according to the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

That is a jump of 33 new cases since yesterday, when the figure stood at 667.

Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter made the announcement this morning, saying officials are due to increase support for immunisation services and particularly having more nurse vaccinators on the ground.

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There is a specific focus to help those in South Auckland and particularly the Pasifika community there, which currently has the highest number of confirmed measles cases.

"I'm very concerned by the rising number of cases, particularly for young Pasifika people in Counties Manukau," Genter said.

"New Zealand currently has the highest number of recorded cases of measles since 1997 and because measles is so contagious, infection spreads particularly quickly among unimmunised people."

The now 700 confirmed cases are made of 475 confirmed measles cases in the Counties Manukau DHB region, 97 in the Auckland DHB area and 128 in the Waitematā DHB district.

Measles message - Lance Norman

Measles cases are still soaring in Auckland, with nearly 600 cases to-date. 😫 Unfortunately, it’s our Māori and Pacific communities that are being most-affected by measles. Measles can make you really unwell, with nearly half of cases ending up in hospital - many of them young babies. It’s FREE for anyone 50 years and under to get vaccinated from any GP clinic or student health centre. It's about protecting yourself, your whānau and your community. Don't assume you're immune! Here's a quick guide to figuring out what immunisations you need - https://bit.ly/30e2a3t

Posted by Waitematā District Health Board on Thursday, 22 August 2019

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot is free for anyone under 50 who has not had two documented doses. It is available nationwide at any general practice clinic.

Genter acknowledged that although immunisation services were free, people sometimes found it difficult to access it for various reasons.

As a result, a special district health board immunisation team will be working to reach people who might not be able to get to their family doctor's clinic, for example.

"The DHB is currently considering how best [to] increase opportunities right across its community.

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"That means nurse vaccinators might be rostered to appear in a range of locations like malls, schools and churches and at a range of times including weekends and evenings.''

Details about where those extra vaccination clinics will be located are still being finalised and would be made public as soon as possible.

MMR VACCINATION ADVICE CHANGED FOR INFANTS:
Because of the outbreak, the Ministry of Health has also modified the standard MMR vaccination catch-up advice.

Babies aged 12 to 14 months who are travelling to Auckland can now receive all four 15-month vaccinations.

Parents are being told that children should have those vaccinations at least two weeks before arriving in Auckland to allow their immunity against measles to develop.

Authorities are also urging people travelling from Auckland to other countries - particularly in the Pacific - to make sure that they are vaccinated.

"There's a real risk that people travelling from Auckland may also spread measles to other regions of New Zealand and further abroad - including to countries in the Pacific that are measles-free," Genter said.

"If you're feeling sick, you should stay away from work, school or public places to help prevent putting other people at risk."