As the number of confirmed measles cases in Northland top 100, the region is contributing towards fighting the disease in Samoa that has so far claimed 22 lives.

Whangārei nurse and midwife Donna Collins flew to Apia yesterday as part of a seven-member New Zealand Red Cross team to help, not just with vaccination, but helping out in hospitals where staff have been inundated with complications from the disease.

The Red Cross team has planned to be in Samoa for two weeks but will shift its stay according to need.

Victims of the deadly outbreak in Samoa were mainly those aged under 5, and has prompted the Samoan Government to declare a state of emergency closing all schools.


The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) estimates Samoa's vaccination rate is between 28 and 40 per cent.

Collins, a highly sought-after nurse and midwife in emergency situations the world over, said she was happy to help prevent deaths in the island nation where access to the best of health care was a challenge.

She had never been deployed to an area with a measles outbreak.

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The closest she came was during a deployment to Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh where an outbreak was declared with 100 confirmed cases by the time she left in December 2017.

"It's exciting going there but with trepidation because you're dealing with death and grieving so this is serious."

In Northland, there were 104 confirmed cases of measles and one under investigation as of November 20.

In just eight days to November 20, there have been 13 confirmed cases and the Northland District Health Board has reiterated earlier messages for primary care providers to ensure
vaccinations were up-to-date for those under 50.


Free drop-in clinic for children and adults under 30 is at the Whangārei Child Wellbeing Hub on Commerce St on Thursdays from 8.30am until 4pm.

People intending to travel to Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Philippines where an outbreak has been declared should also get vaccinated.

There were 2090 confirmed measles cases in New Zealand as of Friday.

Of those, 1678 were in Auckland alone.

Outbreak regions can be found at