Free catch-up on measles vaccination for 15-30-year-olds

Southern DHB’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Jack is calling on young people aged 15 to 30 years who haven’t been immunised for measles to make it a priority to get a FREE catch-up MMR vaccine.

Measles is a serious disease that is about eight times more contagious than COVID-19. Getting immunised is the best way to protect young people, their whānau and community from catching and spreading measles.

Dr Jack’s call to Southern youth and their whānau is part of the national measles campaign, recently launched by the Ministry of Health, the focus of which is to improve the immunity against measles amongst all people in the 15- to 30-year age group.

During the campaign the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine will be offered free to anyone 15 to 30 years who has not yet been fully immunised against measles. This catch-up campaign for 15- to 30-year-olds is a one dose campaign.

Dr Jack says, “Many people born in New Zealand between 1990 and 2005 are not fully protected because a higher than usual number of them did not have their scheduled childhood MMR vaccinations.

“In recent years Southern has experienced a significant measles outbreak in Queenstown and cases in Dunedin, Oamaru, Wanaka and Gore. In Southern towns and cities there were 72 cases of measles in 2019. New Zealand wide there were more than 2,000 cases in 2019, of which 41% were Pacific peoples and 24% Māori.

“People who have come from overseas, including the Pacific Islands, may have had different vaccines that may not fully protect them against measles, mumps and rubella,” she says.

“If you haven’t been immunised, or you cannot find your childhood vaccination records and your GP does not have a copy of them, then the Ministry of Health recommends you have the MMR vaccine now.

“There are no additional safety concerns with having an extra dose. However, women who are pregnant cannot have the MMR vaccine,” she says.

Young people can get their FREE catch-up vaccinations now from General Practices across the Southern district.

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