28 Aug 2019

Measles cases up by 76 since Friday - government

7:52 pm on 28 August 2019

The government has updated the number of cases of measles in New Zealand so far this year to 849.

Pediatrician makes vaccination to small boy

Photo: 123rf.com

Associate Health Minister, Julie Anne Genter, released the figure to journalists at Parliament this afternoon, saying more than 100 cases had occurred in the past week, mostly in the Auckland region.

Nationally, the government and the Ministry of Health have increased support for immunisation services amid the measles outbreak.

The updated figures added another 76 cases since Friday, when there were 773 cases of measles for the year to date. That was an increase of 132 since the week before.

Ms Genter said she was particuarly concerned with the outbreak in South Auckland, which is the worst affected area.

Extra nurse vaccinators have been deployed to malls, schools and churches in the region, as well as Middlemore Hospital's Emergency Department and the Pediatric ward.

"We want to reduce the barriers to people getting vaccinated, that means having vaccinations available at the hospital, doctor's office, but also community places like churches and malls," Ms Genter said.

She said there would be about five additional nurse vaccinators, costing the government $285,000.

Vaccination is free for anyone under the age of 50 who has not received two documented doses.

Bay of Plenty health authorities are warning locals to be immunised for measles if they are travelling to Auckland.

Toi Te Ora Public Health said it was concerned at the size of the measles outbreak in South Auckland, with its medical officer of health Jim Miller saying immunisation uptake in Bay of Plenty was not yet high enough to prevent a local outbreak.

"I know my colleagues in Auckland are doing everything they can to bring this outbreak under control but in the meantime there have been several hundred cases in the Auckland area and that's something that we should all be aware of."

Dr Miller said measles was a serious disease, and about half the people who had caught it in Bay of Plenty ended up in hospital.

At Manurewa High School in South Auckland, 300 students have been told to stay at home after 13 pupils contracted measles.

A post on the school's Facebook page said anyone who hadn't been immunised should not return to school until Monday and those attending school should bring proof they were immune.

If a student was not immunised and there were further confirmed cases at the school, they could be required to stay home for two weeks.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Post is warning of delays in dealing with inquiries after a case of measles was confirmed at one of its offices in Auckland.

The National Contact Centre and Customer Communications Management teams were based in the building in Highbrook in East Tamaki.

New Zealand Post said the customer service team was now running at reduced capacity, and its phone lines were closed.

Employees could return to work once they had confirmed their vaccination status.

The company said anyone who visited the office in Highbrook on or after 17 August might also be at risk.

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