STACY SQUIRES / STUFF
Health professionals are urging parents in Nelson and Marlborough to ensure their children have been vaccinated against measles.
Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service medical officer of health Dr. Andrew Lindsay has urged parents to ensure their children are immunized against measles and to be alert to symptoms of the highly-contagious disease.
"The recent measles outbreak in Canterbury has spread, with two cases reported in Dunedin.
" Immunization is the best protection against this harmful, potentially-fatal disease. ] READ MORE:
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Lindsay said a multidisciplinary team met on Thursday to analyze the situation and take further steps and an incident management team would be established to prepare for a potential outbreak.
He said parents should check their children's immunization record and if in doubt, they should call their GP or practice nurse.
"Children need two doses of the MMR vaccine to be fully immunized, but one dose of MMR provides 95 percent protection."
Lindsay said there was a perception measles was a rare, or low-risk illness but that was a misconception . In 2017, more than 30 people died in Europe from measles.
Figures from Nelson Marlborough Health show that 87 per cent of 15 month-olds had been vaccinated against measles, 10.2 per cent had declined and 2.8 per cent were not completed on
Among four-year-olds, 88 percent were vaccinated, 8.8 percent had declined and 3.2 percent were not completed on time.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health advised all DHBs, excluding Canterbury to maintain the national childhood immunization schedule for MMR vaccination and ages 15 months and 4 years.
At the same time, Pharmac confirmed a global shortage of the measles vaccine had forced authorities to restrict supplies.
Pharmac director of operations Lisa Williams said there was a limited supply of vaccines globally, and Pharmac's responsibility was to ensure there
New Zealand usually uses about 12,000 doses of the MMR vaccine per month -145,000 doses per year, Williams said. "We always hold three months' supply in our national store, and orders arrive regularly to replenish stock as it is distributed out to each region. "
" [Pharmac was] continuing to work with suppliers locally and internationally to get sufficient volumes of the MMR vaccine for everyone who needs it. "[
Nelson GP spokesman Dr Graham Loveridge said there were not enough vaccines for everyone so unvaccinated babies and those who had never received a vaccine were a priority.
He had not yet seen any cases in Nelson, but reminded people to be aware of the symptoms which included a running nose, fever, streaming eyes and red blotchy rash on face and chest.
"It's important people do not get too anxious about it, it is a great incentive to make sure your kids are fully vaccinated, that is the best thing a parent can do for their children."