Following my message on Thursday I want to provide you an update from the National Health Coordination Centre (NHCC), which is overseeing the national response to measles.
This afternoon (Sunday 8 September) the Ministry of Health and PHARMAC have put a temporary pause on measles vaccine orders that are scheduled to be distributed on Monday 9 September - for reasons explained below.
Please note the orders are on hold only; at this stage, we expect orders to be processed on Tuesday and we have arranged with Propharma to retain all orders so you do not need to do a reorder.
The main reason for the temporary pause is that there was an unprecedented amount of vaccine ordered and distributed to general practices over the last week. We are very pleased with this response as it means vaccination is now available to the public at general practices, and we are very grateful for the extraordinary efforts going in to help address the outbreak in Auckland and prevent further outbreaks elsewhere.
On Monday the NHCC will work with DHBs and PHOs to do a thorough stocktake of the distribution of vaccines in each DHB region, and ensure stock is distributed to the areas with the highest need. It is also essential that we continue to ensure appropriate stock is held nationally to manage cases locally to help prevent these escalating into further outbreaks. We expect to work through this in the next 24 hours.
Given the amount of vaccine distributed last week, we fully expect that most of you already have supplies for Monday to keep immunising priority groups.
We continue to ask for and appreciate your support for all children to get their vaccinations on time, and in Auckland to prioritise those communities most affected, namely Pacific peoples, and children under 4 years of age and aged between 15 and 29 years.
The NHCC will provide a further update on Monday about the situation and next steps.
I do appreciate that the decision to defer orders may cause you some logistical issues and apologise for the inconvenience this may cause. Please be assured that we are working hard to ensure vaccine supply and support you in your efforts.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield
Director-General of Health
Current advice as at Sunday 8 September 2019
· Continue to actively recall babies for MMR1 to be delivered from 12 months – this can be recorded as the 15-month event on the NIR
· Other 15-month vaccines can be given at the same time if this is what the parent/caregiver wishes.
· We are recommending that babies travelling to Auckland are fully immunised and that MMR1 is given from 12 months for these children
· At this time, we do not recommend that practices actively recall all 12 month old babies to receive MMR1. However, if families request that MMR1 be given earlier than 15 months (between 12 months and 15 months) then it can be give – along with other 15 month vaccinations if parents wish.
· The other 15-month vaccines can also be given earlier (between 12 and 15 months) if this is what the parent/caregiver wishes.
Infants aged under 12 months
· The best protection for very young children is to ensure that those around them are vaccinated, including family members, whānau and carers
· In general, the only babies aged under 12 months who should be vaccinated are those travelling to countries with uncontrolled outbreaks of measles
· Our current advice is that babies under 12 months of age who are living in or travelling to Auckland do not need an additional early dose of the MMR vaccine i.e. MMR0.
· Antibodies transferred from the mother to the baby can provide some protection and make the MMR vaccine less effective until about one year of age. As the vaccine's effectiveness is lower for babies under 12 months of age, if they are given the vaccine, they will still need two further doses of the MMR vaccine after they turn one year, for long term protection.