Tairāwhiti Health services preparing for measles outbreak

Regions such as Canterbury, Waikato, and Auckland are currently seeing multiple cases of measles, an illness which was under control until recent years. Although the current national measles outbreak has not yet reached Tairāwhiti, the effect that an outbreak could have on our region is concerning.

Immunisation rates of young children have not met Ministry of Health targets for some time in Tairāwhiti, and in some ages have decreased. 

Gisborne mother-of-three Jess Claffey says that she could never put her children at risk. “The risk of not immunising just isn’t worth it. No-one wants to see their children get one of these illnesses. We need to trust our qualified health professionals.”

There is a concern that misinformation about vaccination can be spread easily through social media. Dr Anna Meuli says there is proven scientific research that contradicts most information about the dangers of immunisation. “A great example of this is the recent Danish study of thousands of children which found that immunisation against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) does not increase the risk of autism.”

Dr Meuli believes that as a smaller community like Tairāwhiti, we should be able to reach people easily and share this research more effectively.

In Christchurch people are lining up to get the vaccinations for Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) to protect themselves from the current outbreak. Children and young adults are most at risk. Children under 15 months have not yet had their first immunisation against measles, mumps or rubella, so they rely on the immunity of the whole community to protect them. 

Dr Margot Mclean, Hauora Tairāwhiti Medical Officer of Health says. “People forget how serious diseases such as measles, whooping cough and tetanus can be. We want to make sure that all parents get good information from the start, from trusted professionals like midwives, nurses and doctors.

“Immunisations are offered at all medical centres, and are free. If you are not sure whether you have been immunised against measles, check with your general practice.”

-        Immunisation is free and protects against serious and sometimes fatal diseases

-        Minor side effects such as a raised temperature and tenderness at the site can occur, but serious side effects are extremely rare

-        Talk with your doctor or nurse if you are not sure about getting your child vaccinated.


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