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Measles - important messages

March 17, 2019

Measles – important messages

PLEASE DO NOT COME INTO MEDPLUS IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD HAS A FEVER, CONJUNCTIVITIS AND/OR A RASH. IF YOU NEED TO BE SEEN PLEASE WAIT IN YOUR CAR AND CALL RECEPTION TO LET US KNOW YOU HAVE ARRIVED. If you do have measles you will put at risk all our unimmunised patients. We have to close down for 2 hours if a case of measles is thought to have been in the building, causing real inconvenience for others who need medical assistance. We will see you in your car.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVE VERY LIMITED SUPPLIES OF VACCINATIONS. IF YOU HAVE BOOKED FOR A MEASLES, MUMPS AND RUBELLA VACCINATION PLEASE CALL IN THE MORNING OF YOUR APPOINTMENT TO CHECK THAT WE HAVE ONE FOR YOU. We are being rationed to 50 vaccinations a week and are unable to source more than this at the moment. As long as supplies remain limited, we will need to focus on those who are completely unimmunised.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases and is the third most common vaccine – preventable cause of death amongst children worldwide. The recent measles outbreak in Canterbury has caused concern around New Zealand as we remember how awful this disease can be and how "vaccine hesitancy" has led to lack of community (or herd) immunity, leaving those who are too young to be immunised very vulnerable.

For more information on measles please click on this link

The MMR vaccination is incredibly effective, one dose gives 95% protection and two doses give 99% protection. Normally it is given at 15 months and 4 years of age. The vaccination was introduced in 1969, and most of the population born before then has some natural immunity because it was so common.

Many of you have read in the press that those born from 1969 onwards should ensure that they have had 2 documented doses of MMR given after 12 months of age. Unfortunately records of vaccinations given from 1969- 2005 are probably not computerised, and the most reliable source of information may be your own Plunkett baby book. You will be able to see on the Health 365 Portal exactly what immunisations we have recorded for you.

Vaccinations can be given earlier than 15 months – in fact the first one can be given at 6 months (under certain circumstances - please ask the nurse), and the second any time from a month after. However, if vaccination has been given prior to 12 months then it will need to be repeated at the normal time to ensure adequate protection.

Whilst we are delighted that so many of you are being proactive and are getting your vaccinations up to date, we are facing a supply issue that is outside of our control. The Ministry of Health apparently has good stocks of the vaccination, but we are suddenly only allowed to order only 50 per week from Propharma, regardless of demand. At the end of last week our phones were ringing red hot with enquiries about vaccination and at this rate 50 vaccinations per week are not going to meet our needs. Until our supply chain improves, we are going to have to focus our vaccination efforts on those who are most vulnerable to a measles outbreak. The priority has to be those who have not yet had any vaccination against measles – especially those who are 15 months of age and are due their routine vaccinations. Given how effective just one vaccination is, we are sure you can understand this. We are also reserving our vaccine supply for our own patients and are not offering it to visitors to the practice.