New Zealand measles outbreak prompts travel warning

Henrietta Strickland
August 30, 2019

The number of affected Aucklanders has grown to 762 this year, with 31 new cases reported in the last 24 hours.

Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, a senior lecturer in vaccinology from the University of Auckland, said if any measles carriers took part in events the risk of infecting others would be greatly amplified.

The government is activating a National Health Coordination Centre in response to the measles outbreak.

In a public advisory, the Health Ministry says if anyone is planning worldwide travel, especially to New Zealand, and have not been vaccinated, or are unsure of their vaccination status, measles vaccine is available free of charge at the health centres.

The outbreak resulted in 300 students being sent home and some staff being tested for immunity against measles.

On Wednesday evening, Manurewa High School posted on its Facebook page saying it had had 13 cases of measles to date, and un-vaccinated students were asked to stay at home until September 2.

"From what I've seen the biggest reason people aren't vaccinated isn't because they're afraid of vaccination it's because of logistical barriers - because they're juggling multiple jobs, they can't get to their GP, they don't have security because of where they're living and so on".

There have been 230 cases of measles in Auckland in the last fortnight, and only 10 cases everywhere else in the country.

Genter stopped short of calling the outbreak a crisis and said it was not at an epidemic level yet.

"The absolute worst that can happen is you can actually die from measles - although that is a rare event".

Genter said people under the age of 5, especially children, who had not been vaccinated should seek a free vaccination from their doctor as soon as possible.

The outbreak, which started in January and is the worst in New Zealand in 22 years, has swept the nation and Counties Manukau is the hardest hit with at least 500 confirmed cases.

Boxing royalty Joseph Parker has issued a plea for south Auckland families to get vaccinated against measles.

Stephanie Peeni's seven-month-old old daughter Manaia is among those who have contracted measles.

For more information, phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 or visit the ARPHS or Ministry of Health websites.

There will be new outreach centres where people can get free vaccinations at the Free Church of Tonga in Māngere, Middlemore Hospital Department - every day of the week - and the Clendon public nursing office Monday to Friday.

Schools are required to follow instructions from their local Medical Officer of Health.

Symptoms of measles include: Fever, runny nose, cough, sore and red eyes.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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