The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has declared that the first measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination for tamariki has been brought forward due to an outbreak of measles in Tāmaki Makaurau.
The vaccine, usually given at 15 months, will now be administered at 12 months to prevent infection during a dangerous period for tamariki.
So far this year, there have already been 104 cases of measles in Auckland alone, with 43% of those aged five years or younger. The next age group at risk are those aged between 15-29 years, making up 30% of confirmed cases.
ARPHS Clinical Director, Dr Julia Peters, says, "We have seen a significant number of young babies with measles, many of whom have been hospitalised. Receiving the first dose of MMR at 12 months will increase levels of immunity in the community and provide added protection for these infants."
Peters says GPs can provide all four 15 month vaccinations at the same time for convenience and simplicity, including the MMR vaccine.
The Ministry of Health supports the vaccine due to studies showing that after a single dose, 90–95 out of 100 people will be protected from measles, 69–81 from mumps and 90–97 from rubella.
After a second dose of the MMR vaccine the number of people protected from these diseases increases, almost everyone will be protected from measles and rubella and up to 88% are protected from mumps.
Peters encourages parents of young children to consider vaccinating as soon as possible.
"The virus is now spreading around the Auckland region. The only effective way to reduce the impact of measles is to increase vaccination rates in the region."
Older children and adults aged up to 50 years who have no documented evidence of vaccination against measles are also recommended to receive an MMR vaccine from their local GP.