350,000 More Measles Vaccines for Massive Immunisation Campaign

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350,000 More Measles Vaccines for Massive Immunisation Campaign

Associate health minister Julie Anne Genter
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The Government is stepping up the fight against measles and protecting hundreds of thousands more young adults by investing up to $40 million for a year-long measles-catch-up campaign and $23 million to fully fund and develop the National Immunisation Solution, Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter announced at Mangere College today.

“We’ve secured an extra 350,000 doses of the MMR vaccine, they’re in the country now,” Julie Anne Genter said.

“We are making it as easy as possible for young people, Māori and Pasifika people especially, to get vaccinated. Now, immunisation is available in a variety of places, such as schools, workplaces, pharmacies and marae.

Since 1 January 2019, New Zealand has had 2194 cases of measles. We have had no measles cases since in New Zealand since 24 January 2020.

“Previous governments have not prioritised measles vaccinations in the community, and as a result we fell below the 95 per cent herd-immunity point that prevents outbreaks of measles, this campaign will help get us to that point.

“COVID-19 has disrupted immunisation programmes around the world, increasing the risk of severe outbreaks once travel resumes.

“That’s why we’re doing a catch-up campaign focused on the roughly 300,000 young adults aged between 15 and 30 who are not immune to measles, as their immunisation rate is generally too low to prevent a measles outbreak.

“DHBs know their communities well and how best to target the extra vaccines. They’ll start rolling out their measles campaigns shortly, followed by a national campaign later this year.

“The National Immunisation Register was first set up in 2005 and no longer fit for purpose.

“That’s why this Government has invested $23 million to fully fund and develop the National Immunisation Solution - in efforts to ensure we better monitor who is and isn’t getting measles immunisations, and when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, we are ready to roll out a mass vaccination programme.

“Let’s protect those around us. Immunisation is the best way to protect and prevent future outbreaks. I encourage whānau with children and people aged 15-30 who may not have been vaccinated to contact their GP to book an appointment. If you're over the age of 15 you can also get the vaccine at some pharmacies,” Julie Anne Genter said.

Notes

While immunisation rates among young children are over 90 percent, the rate for young adults who were born before the National Immunisation Register (NIR) was established in 2005 is much lower, and more difficult to calculate. An estimate carried out in recent years suggested that around 560,000 New Zealanders were not immune to measles, most of whom were aged between 15 and 29. People born before 1 January 1969 are considered to be immune as they would have likely caught measles as young children, before vaccination was available.

Many people who were born before the NIR was established will be unaware of their vaccination history – the NIR enabled reminders and a national record to ensure that if vaccination has not taken place at the recommended age, people could be encouraged to catch up later. The NIR has resulted in a significant increase in immunisation rates simply by reducing the number of people who were inadvertently not immunised.

The NIR is a legacy system that needs to be replaced and work is already underway to establish a new NIR that is better able to measure vaccinations across the lifespan, for the whole population.

Māori and Pacific communities were more severely affected by the 2019 measles outbreak in New Zealand because of their historically low immunisation rates

Among the six localised measles outbreaks in 2019, Auckland was hardest hit.

  • Northland – 133 cases
  • Canterbury – 45 cases
  • Auckland region – 1,377 cases
  • Waikato – 51 cases
  • Bay of Plenty – 45 cases
  • Southern – 73 cases

How is the funding being spent?

The funding includes the following:

- $10 million in for the costs of the measles outbreak and purchase of extra vaccines

- Up to $40 million to fund the delivery of a measles immunisation - campaign and changes to the National Immunisation Schedule

- $1.4 million in 2019/20 to fund the development of a business case and establishment costs for the redevelopment of the National Immunisation Register (NIR) –resulting in a $23 million investment to build the new NIR.

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