The United States-based Center for Disease Control has revealed in an update that New Zealand has exported two cases of measles to the US this year, more than either India or China, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“This shows how serious the current measles outbreak is. There have been over 1,600 confirmed cases in New Zealand, more than across the entirety of the US, which had 1,249 confirmed cases as at 1 October.
“Given the seriousness and scale of the New Zealand outbreaks, it defies belief that the Government cannot offer vaccine protection to all of those at risk, including those over five who have not been vaccinated, or those between the ages of 30 and 50 who have only had one vaccine. These groups were all included in the vaccination guidelines until the Government deprioritised them to manage the shortage it caused.
“New Zealand now has a measles outbreak bigger than all of the US, is exporting cases abroad, and yet we still don’t have enough vaccines to ensure everyone is protected.
“The Government missed the early warning signs: three measles outbreaks in the first two months of this year and a warning from the World Health Organisation in April.
“It has scrapped the health targets that resulted in higher vaccination rates, and been asleep at the wheel as the current outbreak has taken hold.
“Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter needs to let the public know when all New Zealanders will be able to be vaccinated and reinstate health targets.
“National called for pharmacists to be able to vaccinate for measles a month ago, which would have improved access and ensured more Kiwis could be vaccinated, but the Government hasn’t implemented it.
“It’s time for Ms Genter to show some leadership on measles.”
Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Update on Measles Cases and Outbreaks can be found here.