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SDHB Medical Officer of Health urges Southern 15-30 year olds to have FREE catch-up measles vaccination

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Southern DHB’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Jack is calling on young people aged 15 to 30 years who haven’t been immunised for measles to make it a priority to get a FREE catch-up MMR vaccine.

Measles is a serious disease that is about eight times more contagious than COVID-19.  Getting immunised is the best way to protect young people, their whānau and community from catching and spreading measles.

Dr Jack’s call to Southern youth and their whānau is part of the national measles campaign, recently launched by the Ministry of Health, the focus of which is to improve the immunity against measles amongst all people in the 15 to 30 year age group.

During the campaign the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine will be offered free to anyone 15 to 30 years who has not yet been fully immunised against measles.   This catch-up campaign for 15 to 30 year olds is a one dose campaign.

Dr Jack said, “Many people born in New Zealand between 1990 and 2005 are not fully protected because a higher than usual number of them did not have their scheduled childhood MMR vaccinations.

“In recent years Southern has experienced a significant measles outbreak in Queenstown and cases in Dunedin, Oamaru, Wanaka and Gore.  In Southern towns and cities there were 72 cases of measles in 2019.  New Zealand wide there were more than 2,000 cases in 2019, of which 41% were Pacific peoples and 24% Māori.

“This campaign has a strong focus on equity aiming to have all young people aged 15 to 30 years immunised against measles, reducing any gaps in immunisation between different groups, in particular Māori and Pacific peoples, those with disabilities, and those living rurally.

“People who have come from overseas, including the Pacific Islands, may have had different vaccines that may not fully protect them against measles, mumps and rubella,” she said.

“Getting vaccinated is one of the simplest steps you can take to stay healthy,” said WellSouth Medical Director, Dr Stephen Graham. “It helps protect you, your whānau and others from getting sick. Like the campaign suggests: Protect yourself from measles and be a guardian of the future.”   

Dr Jack said, “If you haven’t been immunised, or you cannot find your childhood vaccination records and your GP does not have a copy of them, then the Ministry of Health recommends you have the MMR vaccine now.

“There are no additional safety concerns with having an extra dose.  However, women who are pregnant cannot have the MMR vaccine,” she said.

Young people can get their FREE catch-up vaccinations now from General Practices across the Southern district.

“My message to the young people of Southern, and their whānau, is you are offered a free measles vaccine, take it.  Be proactive.  Ring your Doctor and book in for your FREE vaccine to protect yourself and your community from this serious disease,” Dr Jack said.

To find out more about measles and the MMR vaccination, visit:

The Southern Health website https://www.southernhealth.nz/SouthernMeasles

Or

The Ministry of Health’s website https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/immunisation/protect-against-measles