17 Sep 2019

Pharmac may have to compete for measles vaccine if newest batch runs out

6:34 pm on 17 September 2019

Pharmac is looking at whether it can order more measles vaccine in case the latest batch runs out before January when the next lot is due to arrive.

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Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Auckland's senior medical officer of health William Rainger said the serious outbreak in Auckland was continuing to rise, with 1108 cases confirmed this year.

About 52,000 doses had arrived in the country and were being quality tested before being distributed to clinics on Thursday, Dr Grainger said.

Some GP clinics had run out of the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine and the city's district health boards had been moving doses around to where they were needed most.

The next drop of vaccine was not expected until January and Pharmac would have to compete with other countries for any additional supplies, he said.

The Auckland Regional Public health service would continue its new, more targeted approach, he said.

"We'll have to monitor vaccine supply and uptake...daily and weekly and use the intelligence that we have, the information about the disease, to make the best use of it."

The priority was to continue the normal vaccine schedule for under fives, particularly because they were the group most at risk from the disease.

The second priority will be to use the vaccine in the areas where the disease was most likely to spread to try to stamp it out, Dr Grainger said.

The rate of spread was about the same as it had been for several weeks but health officials hoped it would soon begin to level off as the effect of extra vaccination took place.

Meanwhile, a measles alert has been isssued for Dunedin and Southland because an infectious person travelled through Otago and Southland.

The person visited Wanaka, Queenstown, Dunedin and Winton between the 8th and 13th of September while they were are risk of passing on the disease.

The DHB's medical officer of health Susan Jack said everyone should be alert for symptoms and signs of the highly infectious illness.

They include a runny nose, sore throat, red eyes and headache with a cough, blotchy rash and fever developing later on.

There are already 23 confirmed cases in the region, but none in Dunedin or Southland.

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