With the number of confirmed measles cases surpassing 1,000, the Government needs to act faster to ensure the lives of more New Zealanders are not put at risk, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Time is of the essence here. We’re seeing dozens of new cases every day and the outbreak is spreading beyond just Auckland. Health professionals now are suggesting deaths will result from further inaction.

“With reports that contamination is spreading to Hamilton and other parts of the North Island, it is clear the Government needs to act with pace to ensure the measles outbreak is contained.

“The Government has let immunisation rates fall and is playing catch up on measles. It’s not catching up fast enough and as a result more New Zealanders are contracting measles.

“Vaccination-qualified pharmacists are ready to administer the MMR vaccine. Over 800 pharmacists have been saying for days that they want to help. National raised this as a possibility on Monday, but the Government has sat on its hands.

“The Government should be rolling out vaccination programmes in as many schools as possible, to ensure children are vaccinated, and in workplaces, to ensure that as many adults are protected as possible. There are many adults who never received their MMR booster and aren’t fully immune.

“The outbreak’s now got so bad that the United States has put out a travel advisory on the public health risk of New Zealand’s measles outbreak.

“David Clark scrapped health targets that led to higher immunisation rates. Under National, immunisation rates were improving.

“This outbreak was preventable. Now it’s underway, the Government needs to speed up its response to bring it to an end and ensure that New Zealand remains measles free.

“National supports proactive policy measures that will keep New Zealanders safe.”

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