As the shortage of measles vaccines prompts doctors to prioritise some patients over others, some medical practices have reported people getting angry and upset when told they can't get the vaccine. Sandra Conchie talks to local practices, plus a mum who has given up trying to get her child vaccinated.
People desperate for the measles vaccine are getting angry and upset at medical centre staff, while others are crying on the phone as the shortage of the vaccine becomes more severe.
A Bay of Plenty health official is calling for "calm and patience" after tensions flared at some general practices.
Some Bay of Plenty GP centres contacted by the Bay of Plenty Times confirmed their measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) supplies had run out more than a week ago, and others expected to run out within days.
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A spokeswoman at Pāpāmoa Pines Palm Springs medical centre said they were having to turn people away after running out of supplies two weeks ago.
"It's been very difficult as we have been flooded with people responding to the TV and other news reports wanting to get vaccinated, but we can't help them," she said.
"We've had people who have been angry, and very demanding, and also mothers crying on the phone who feel their babies are at risk, and lots of concerned adults who believe they've never vaccinated," the spokeswoman said.
"It's taking a lot of extra time to get some people to understand this situation is out of our control and it's creating extra stress and workload for our practice," she said.
A spokeswoman from a Rotorua medical centre, who asked not to be identified, said they had "heaps and heaps" of people asking about getting vaccinated, including some previously opposed to the MMR vaccine.
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"It's was full-on last week and while demand has slowed down a bit, we're still fielding heaps of calls as more people become concerned about the potential risk," she said.
Tauranga mother Jessica Barnes is one of many to have no luck getting the vaccine.
She said she was turned away by 20 general practices last week while trying to get the vaccine for her 3-year-old son, who has only had one of his vaccines.
Barnes described the situation as "a joke".
"I would have called about 20 places by now, including a few in the rural outskirts of Tauranga," Barnes said.
But he is still not vaccinated.
"I gave up after being denied so many times," she said.
"I've been mortified with some of the attitudes of the people who pick up the phone when everyone is stressed about the outbreak, not just them."
Barnes said she was "terrified" her son would get sick.
Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation general practice services manager Phil Back said because of the flood of demand for vaccinations, children already scheduled for their jabs at 15 months and 4 years old would be given first priority.
Back said adults who received childhood MMR vaccinations were sufficiently covered.
"Anyone else is asked to call their GP to register their request for a vaccination, but only if you believe you have never had an MMR vaccination," Back said.
"Further stocks were likely to be available by the middle or end of next week but, even then, the region is likely to be in catch-up mode."
Dr Phil Shoemack, medical officer of health for Toi Te Ora Public Health, said the upset and frustration from some patients was understandable.
Shoemack said the MMR vaccine shortage in the Bay of Plenty was an "unfortunate situation" and a result of the amounts of vaccines that needed to be diverted to the Auckland area.
"However, it's tremendous that so many people want to get vaccinated and we hope the supply situation will be resolved."
There have been 1238 confirmed measles cases across New Zealand, including 42 cases in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District.
Other medical centres spoken to by the Bay of Plenty Times shared similar stories about the vaccine shortage.
Murupara Medical Centre's vaccine supply was getting to the "bottom of the barrel" and the practice manager said some patients had become a "little upset" when told they could not be vaccinated.
A practice nurse at the Healthcare on Fifteen Medical Centre said they had run out of vaccines at least a week ago and their order for more had been cancelled.
"Last week was a nightmare as we were getting 70 to 80 calls a day, and some people have become very upset when we told them we are waiting for more supplies."
A spokeswoman from Cameron Medical Centre in Gate Pā said the majority of their patients were immunised and unvaccinated patients were being "understanding".
Both Korowai Aroha Health Centre and Eruera Medical Centre had some vaccines left for high-priority patients and hadn't experienced problems with patients having to be put on a waiting list.
Vaccine stocks were expected to run out in a few days at Farm St Family Health Centre in Bayfair.