19 Sep 2019

Co-ordination centre to make sure MMR vaccine is where it's needed

1:48 pm on 19 September 2019

The director general of health says he's confident the country has sufficient stocks of MMR vaccine.

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Pharmac just ordered an additional 100,000 doses of the measles vaccine, which was on top of the 52,000 doses that arrived in the country on Sunday.

The latest shipment of vaccines, being used to try to halt the measles outbreak, were due to be rolled out to GPs from today.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield, who's also the chief executive at the Ministry of Health, said a co-ordination centre is making sure they are in the right place to meet demand.

He said the operation centres set up in Auckland earlier helped cope with the outbreak.

Dr Bloomfield said he's very pleased with the handling of the outbreak and the authorities "weren't caught out".

"We knew that the number of cases was increasing and we knew also that they were increasing particularly in Auckland and in south Auckland, so that's why we did step in and make sure we check with Pharmac whether they had sufficient vaccine," he said.

"When it became apparent that the Auckland situation had moved beyond just that initial ability of the public health unit to respond, that's when we stepped up our oversight at a national level."

Dr Bloomfield said the communication with the public is better than it was early on about who needs to be vaccinated and who are the priority groups.

The Waikato District Health Board said they will vaccinate Māori and Pacific children first.

Medical director of the Royal New Zealand College of GPs, Bryan Betty, is a GP in the high-needs community of Cannons Creek, Porirua.

He said the spread of the virus shows a need for the whole country to think about immunisation.

A second pop-up clinic offering free measles vaccinations is opening at Te Kōhao Health in Hamilton this afternoon.

Waikato has had 18 confirmed cases of measles, and clinician Linda Elgar said that number is expected to rise.

The national vaccination rate for six month olds is down to just 61 percent for Māori babies.

Ms Elgar said the clinic wants to make vaccinations accessible to whānau, and is prioritising children under the age of four.

There have now been 1348 confirmed cases of measles nationally, 1120 of them around Auckland.

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