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Gore walk-in clinic offers free measles vaccines

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As health authorities here and abroad voice concern about the prospect of serious measles outbreaks, Gore residents have the opportunity to get immunised against the disease at a local walk-in community clinic next week.

The clinic will be held on Monday 16 May at Hokonui Rūnanga in Gore between 12.00pm and 6.00pm.

Measles is a highly-contagious and potentially lethal virus – but two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine will protect 99% of people against the disease.

“Measles immunisation rates have fallen considerably in New Zealand and overseas over the past two years, as health authorities and communities have contended with the effects of COVID-19,” explains Southern DHB Measles Campaign Coordinator, Deborah Kay-Corkin. “This has created a situation the World Health Organization has described as a perfect storm with conditions ripe for serious outbreaks of measles.”

Southern DHB is encouraging people to check they are up-to-date with their MMR vaccinations ahead of New Zealand’s international borders reopening in July.

“MMR vaccines are free to anyone born in and after 1969 – those born before then are already considered immune,” says Mrs Kay-Corkin.

People can check their Plunket or WellChild books, or ask their doctors to find out whether they have received the two MMR doses required to be fully immunised. If they don’t know for sure, it is best to play it safe and get the vaccine.

“There are no additional safety concerns with having extra MMR doses, and you can also safely have your MMR vaccine at the same time as your COVID-19 or flu vaccines,” says Mrs Kay-Corkin.

During New Zealand’s last measles outbreak in 2019, Māori were four times more likely than Pākehā to be affected by the disease.

Monday’s clinic will be led by Nadine Goldsmith, Nurse Practitioner at Awarua Whānau Services which operates walk-in clinics health care clinics across Southland. Awarua works closely with rūnanga, Māori providers, GPs, community health and social groups, and Southern DHB to help address inequities for Māori in health care.

“While that is our core focus, our walk-in clinics are always open to everyone, and we encourage anyone who needs their MMR vaccine to come and see us on Monday afternoon,” she says. “The clinic at Hokonui Rūnanga provides a great opportunity to get up-to-date with vaccines – as well as free MMR vaccines, we will also have free flu and COVID-19 vaccines available. And you can just drop in, there’s no need to make an appointment.”

Anyone who is unable to attend Monday’s clinic can still get their free MMR vaccine through their GP or at participating pharmacies – find a full list of participating pharmacies at www.southernhealth.nz/SouthernMeasles. Free MMR vaccines are also available at the mass vaccination clinic at Civic Theatre in Invercargill.