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MidCentral DHB COVID-19 vaccination sites now offering MMR vaccine

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The MidCentral District Health Board is calling on the community to check that they are up-to-date with their measles vaccination to prepare for the increasing number of international visitors to the country.

To support this, a number of COVID-19 walk-in vaccination clinics around the rohe are now offering the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to eligible people.

Measles is a serious disease that can lead to potentially life-threatening complications. In the most recent outbreak in New Zealand, starting in 2019 and finishing in 2020, almost a third of those infected had to be hospitalised.

With two doses of the MMR vaccine, a person is generally considered protected against measles, mumps, and rubella for life. However there is currently a gap in who is protected in the community, says MidCentral DHB’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kelvin Billinghurst.

"Another measles outbreak could see a lot of tamariki becoming very unwell, very quickly."

"Measles is not currently in New Zealand, however it’s likely that visitors from overseas could unknowingly bring the virus with them. If this happens before we have enough people immunised against it, then we could be facing a serious outbreak of a highly infectious and deadly disease - especially for children under the age of five.

Dr Billinghurst, says our tamariki are not the only ones at risk from contracting measles.

"Many people aged between 18 and 32 years old didn’t get fully immunised with two doses when they were children. They often don’t realise that they aren’t protected against catching and passing on measles.

"Measles is deadly, and can have serious effects on adults over 20, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems."

"In our most recent outbreak in 2019, 2,174 people were reported to have contracted measles, and out of these 2,174 people, almost 800 of them were hospitalised due to the virus."

Dr Billinghurst explains that the best way to prevent measles from taking hold in our communities is by getting two doses of the MMR vaccine.

"We need high levels of vaccination in order to protect our most vulnerable communities. If 95% of people are immunised that gives us an effective herd immunity.

Dr Billinghurst says "Ask your doctor, parent or caregiver if you had two doses of the MMR vaccine as a child. If you haven’t received the measles vaccination, or if you are unsure if you have, it is perfectly safe to have another dose, just in case."

The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine has been used in New Zealand since 1972 and is proven to be safe and effective. The vaccine consists of two injections four weeks apart. It is safe to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and MMR at the same time, and this is available at a number of our COVID-19 walk-in vaccination clinics.

Walk in COVID-19 vaccination clinics will not be offering the MMR vaccine to children under five as part of their childhood immunisations. If your child is due for their MMR vaccine, please discuss this with your GP or usual healthcare provider.

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