The Government’s deprioritisation of 30-50 year olds to manage low vaccine stock could be leading to an average of around 20 new measles cases each week, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Among age groups that have been able to access vaccines, the spread of measles has slowed, but among those aged between 30 and 50, the outbreak hasn’t let up. Last week there were 26 new cases when we would expect the number to be falling.
“At the end of August, Julie Anne Genter recommended everyone under 50 be vaccinated. Less than two weeks later, the Ministry of Health deprioritised 30-50 year olds in order to manage low vaccine stock. This remains the policy across almost all of New Zealand.
“Especially concerning is that the hospitalisation rate for this age group is over 20 per cent. Many of those people will have children or jobs they can’t afford to be away from.
“It’s important that children are protected, but 236 adults between 30 and 50 have contracted measles this year, and many of these cases could have been prevented through vaccination.
“The Government’s botched response to measles is hurting New Zealanders. Now the promised 100,000 vaccines have arrived in New Zealand, Ms Genter needs to update the guidelines and allow 30-50 year olds to be vaccinated.
“It wouldn’t have had to limit vaccine provision if it had heeded warning the warning signs and ordered more vaccines sooner. There were three outbreaks in January and February alone – this should have been a clear sign more vaccines would be needed.
“On top of that, the World Health Organisation sent warnings about the risks of measles to all governments in the Pacific in April.
“This Government ignored the signs, scrapped the health targets that resulted in higher vaccination rates and ignored National’s proposal to allow pharmacists to vaccinate for measles, which would have improved access.
“Julie Anne Genter needs to show leadership on measles so that New Zealanders are protected.”