10 Mar 2019

Vaccine boost as measles cases rise in Canterbury

9:12 am on 10 March 2019

Thousands of MMR vaccines are being delivered to Canterbury as its measles outbreak widens to 20 confirmed cases this weekend.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccine, MMR,

Photo: 123RF

By yesterday morning the number of confirmed cases had risen to 16, after a North Canterbury man in his 40s was confirmed to have the virus. During the afternoon another four cases were confirmed.

An additional 3000 vaccines were brought into the region this week, to meet the growing demand.

Next week, an additional 18,000 vaccines will be delivered and there will be thousands more shipped in the following week.

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.

However, the Canterbury District Health Board is still expecting the number of measles cases to rise in the coming days and weeks.

Its Medical Officer of Health, Ramon Pink, said people were infectious from five days before the onset of the rash, until five days after it appeared.

Because measles is so infectious, those with symptoms are being told not to visit their GP or after hours clinic, but to instead call their general practice or family doctor for advice.

Are you immunised?

According to the CDHB, general practice teams have been asked to prioritise the following groups for MMR immunisation:

  • People who are not up-to-date according to the schedule for their age-group
  • Children and young adults (age range 5 years to 28 years) who are either not immunised or who have only received one MMR dose to date.
  • Children 12 months to 5 years who have never received any doses of MMR.
  • The four-year-old MMR can be brought forward to no sooner than four weeks after the previous MMR.
  • Adults aged 29 to 50 (this group only received one dose of measles vaccine).