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Next steps for measles vaccine campaign

Friday 29 March 2019Media release3 minutes to read

A Canterbury midwife receives her MMR vaccine while holding her own beautiful baby

To help contain Canterbury’s measles outbreak a wider group of people are now eligible to receive a second MMR vaccination. 
The number of measles cases in Canterbury has risen to 37, with a further nine cases under investigation. 
Medical officer of health Dr Ramon Pink says primary care have done a great job providing the MMR vaccine to those in the initial priority group – people aged 12 months to 28 years who have never been vaccinated. 
“The most effective way to stop the spread of measles in our community is to vaccinate those who have never received an MMR vaccine,” says Dr Pink. 
“There’s been a concerted effort over the last month to increase uptake amongst this group, and we’re now widening the net so we can create greater immunity in our community.” 
As well continuing to provide the vaccine to those aged 12 months to 28 years old who have never been vaccinated, we’re extending the availability of a second dose of MMR vaccine to: 

  • all those aged 12 months – 28 years 
  • caregivers of infants aged up to 12 months 
  • those between 29 and 50 who work with children 

Dr Pink says extending the second dose to these groups recognises the importance of stopping the transmission of measles amongst young people. 
“Twenty-five of our 37 cases have occurred in people aged 28 and younger. This group is particularly susceptible to measles, and are the primary spreaders of the disease.”   
Dr Pink says if you are in one of these groups and not sure if you are fully vaccinated, and your vaccination records are not easily available, GP teams are able to provide you with an additional MMR vaccine. 
Many people already have good protection against the measles, says Dr Pink. 
Those who have had two MMR vaccinations (typically given at 15 months and 4 years) are considered immune from measles. People born before 1969 will have been exposed to the measles virus and will have acquired immunity. 
People born between 1969 and 1990 are considered to have a good level of protection. This group were offered one measles vaccine and evidence suggests that one dose of MMR protects 95% of people from developing measles. 
Canterbury health authorities are in regular contact with Pharmac and the Ministry of Health around supply of the MMR vaccine. 
“During March thirty-one thousand vaccines have been distributed to general practices. 

“Our vaccination campaign over the next four weeks aims to target those still at risk of being infected by measles, or having serious complications from it. We believe we have enough stock of the MMR vaccine to support our campaign.” 
Dr Pink says anyone with measles symptoms or who believes they may have been exposed, can contact their usual general practice 24/7 for additional advice. 
“If people call their GP team after hours follow the instructions to be put through to a nurse who will answer the call and advise what to do and where to go if you need to be seen.”



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Page last updated: 29 March 2019

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