National Health Coordination Centre measles outbreak update for primary care sector

6 Sep 2019

Kia ora koutou katoa

There is currently a significant measles outbreak.

During this outbreak, we continue to ask for your support for all children to get their vaccinations on time, and in Auckland to prioritise those communities most affected, namely Pacific peoples, and those under 4 years of age and aged between 15 and 29 years.

Normal monthly usage of MMR vaccine in New Zealand is approximately 12,000 doses. From 1 January to 3 September 2019 230,000 doses of MMR vaccine were distributed nationwide. From 1 September to 4 September,over 30,000 doses were distributed around the country - about 2/3 of these within the Auckland region.

While I know many of you are feeling the pressure, particularly in the Auckland region, this is a huge testament to the work the sector is doing to protect our communities and I sincerely thank you for that.

Last night we put a brief pause on vaccination distribution from some warehouses while we were working through some logistical issues. While this pause has now been lifted, it may have an impact on orders received today. It’s important to note that ProPharma orders shipped this morning may not include MMR vaccine, and that ProPharma does not keep backorders. If you did not receive your order, you'll need to resubmit it.

We continue to keep an eye on distribution and are working closely with PHARMAC to ensure vaccine is going to where it is most needed, the priority being managing the outbreak in Auckland and ensuring children are vaccinated on time .

We have received feedback about the flow of information during this outbreak. We will provide you with regular updates from Monday 9 September 2019 – please visit to join the mailing list.

Current advice as at Thursday 5 September 2019

Auckland region

·        Actively recall babies for MMR1 to be delivered from 12 months – this can be recorded as 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.

Other regions

·        We are recommending that babies travelling to Auckland are fully immunised and that MMR1 is given from 12 months for these children
·        We are not recommending 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 given
·        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, only babies aged under 12 months who are travelling to countries with uncontrolled outbreaks of measles should receive the vaccine
·        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
·        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 once they turn one year, for long term protection.

Waiting room protocol

Measles is a highly contagious airborne infection. Patients with suspected measles may not have called ahead, so be prepared to implement Infection Prevention and Control measures. For example, please keep an accurate record of walk-in patients and other visitors in case contact tracing is required, identify suitable triage and isolation areas for suspect measles cases, allow only immune staff to have contact with the patient, and use appropriate personal protective equipment (eg N95 masks). Place signs, hand gels and surgical masks at waiting room entrances or reception desks. Patients with suspected measles should be told to isolate at home, and if sending them to hospital or labs, make arrangements to avoid common waiting rooms etc.

If there are any changes to the Ministry’s immunisation advice will be communicated via our existing channels.

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