More measles cases in Northland - DHB must act

More measles cases in Northland - DHB must act

The Ministry of Health must put more resources into the measles outbreak in Northland after a further five cases were confirmed on Tuesday, National’s Associate spokesperson for Health Dr Shane Reti says.

This takes the total cases in Northland to 40 and follows barely 24 hours after Dr Reti told media that Northland would be the next cab off the rank for measles.

“It isn’t rocket science to presume that an area next to the Auckland outbreak, with pockets of deprivation would likely become infected with the measles virus.

“I am calling on the Ministry to rapidly authorise the one in four Northland pharmacists who already vaccinate, to be able to administer the measles vaccine. The Ministry should also provide more resourcing to the DHB so that they can reach out to rural areas of Northland via schools and clinics and also to step up workplace vaccinations for adults. Finally, we need to reintroduce the National Health targets that David Clark removed in May 2018.

“I have checked with colleagues in Northland and supplies are marginal so the Ministry must give assurances that there are enough vaccines.

“It is a worrying sign that after the nationwide vaccine stock take yesterday, suddenly the priority to vaccinate adults under 50 had been deprioritised to 15 to 29 year olds. This age group has not become miraculously immune. Therefore it is dangerously likely the Ministry and PHARMAC are running out of vaccines and have changed the guidelines.

“This is looking like another botched vaccine response that the Government can add to its legacy, in keeping with the Northland Meningitis vaccination campaign, running out of flu vaccines in May and now supply problems with the measles vaccine.

“The Ministry must act now to address the spread of this illness, it is quite literally a matter of life or death.”