Northland school achieves almost total measles vaccination rate

11:35 am on 2 December 2019

A Northland primary school has achieved an almost complete measles vaccination rate by reassuring parents that the MMR vaccine is safe, contrary to an abundance of misleading information online.

Ninety-seven percent of the mainly Māori students at Te Kura ō Otangarei have now received the MMR vaccine. The school has a roll of 108.

Principal Myles Ferris told Morning Report that when the measles outbreak began earlier this year, he asked the district's public health nurses for a report on vaccination rates at his school.

He found that only 60 percent of the children were immunised.

They were families "who had slipped through the system" or come back from overseas. It was a case of getting in touch with them to warn of the dangers of their children not being vaccinated, he said.

A few resisted mainly through what they were reading on the internet.

It was a matter of trying to educate them, telling them that there are false statements about vaccines online and some of the misleading material is 20 to 30 years old.

Mr Ferris said the message was also about the responsibility of protecting people such as young babies and the elderly who could not be vaccinated.

"Those people are at huge risk and I think we have a moral obligation to look after them by being vaccinated.

"If you look at Samoa at the moment - what is it at the moment - 48 at the last count - it's shocking and those people who have decided against it, well, what they have done is created a situation where people around the world are now incredibly vulnerable."

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