Julie Anne Genter has crowed about ‘a significant increase in MMR immunisations’ while nine outbreaks have swept the country on her watch, people have caught measles from hospital workers and we’ve exported measles to the Pacific, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“It’s disingenuous for the Minister to talk about more vaccines being administered. More than 1,800 New Zealanders have contracted measles this year and the Government’s response has been too little, too late.
“Ms Genter deprioritised 30-50 year olds in September when vaccines ran short, admitting today there was ‘unprecedented demand’. But the Government should have ordered more vaccines, sooner.
“It ignored the red flags about rising numbers of measles cases, starting with three outbreaks in January and February of this year and a warning from the World Health Organisation in April. We’ve now exported measles not only to the USA, but to the Pacific, including Tonga and Samoa which are especially vulnerable because of their low vaccination rates.
“This Government scrapped the health targets that led to higher immunisation rates, and ignored a call from National to allow pharmacists to vaccinate for measles, even though that would have improved access for hard-to-reach groups.
“Some of this year’s measles cases were picked up in Canterbury hospitals, and twenty DHB workers have contracted measles when they should have been immune. New Zealanders expect that frontline health workers have been vaccinated, both to protect their own health and because they work with at-risk patients.
“It’s time the Government got a handle on measles.”