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The Government has finally taken up National’s suggestion to allow pharmacists to vaccinate against measles, but it’s a shame it sat on its hands for so long, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Almost two months ago National called for pharmacists to be allowed to vaccinate for measles.

“It’s clear the Government recognises what a sensible measure it is to utilise the resources of our more than 800 vaccination-qualified pharmacists, but it’s a shame that’s taken it so long – the outbreak peaked weeks ago.

“Julie Anne Genter needs to explain why she took so long to allow pharmacists to vaccinate for measles when it was obvious more people need to be vaccinated and both pharmacists and National were calling for this to happen.

“The Government should have rolled out vaccinations as widely as possible, as early as possible. Instead, it ignored the early warning signs this year, from three outbreaks in January and February, to a letter from the World Health Organisation specifically advising of the risks from measles.

“Measles is a preventable disease and Julie Anne Genter should ensure as many Kiwis as possible are vaccinated.

“The previous National Government introduced health targets that resulted in higher immunisation rates. This Government scrapped them.

“Pharmacists have long been able to vaccinate for flu, but this simple change will allow many more Kiwis to be protected from measles, which has so far infected almost 2,000 New Zealanders this year.

“Finally smart, simple moves that will immediately increase access to vaccines are being taken up. National is pleased to have collaborated with pharmacists to get to this point.”

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