Ministry ignored advice to boost measles immunisation of teens, young adults
As measles cases continue to skyrocket in New Zealand, documents show the Ministry of Health failed to act on expert advice to prevent outbreaks.
A surveillance report from ESR confirmed 311 cases this year with 41 per cent, or 128, requiring hospitalisation due to complications.
Immunisation Advisory Centre director and National Verification Committee (NVC) chair Dr Nikki Turner said measles outbreaks in Auckland, Wellington and Taranaki could threaten New Zealand’s official elimination status.
In October 2017 the Ministry announced New Zealand had won international praise for officially eliminating measles and rubella – meaning no new cases had originated within the country in three years.
If any of the current measles virus’ circulating begin reproducing within New Zealand for a period of 12 months or more, that status will be revoked.
“Now we have elimination we could likely lose it if we had a virus transmitting in the New Zealand community for more than 12 months,” Turner said.
The committee, which reports to a regional World Health Organisation verification committee, has repeatedly warned the Ministry that this status could be undermined unless there was a concerted effort to close significant immunity gaps, mainly among teenagers and young adults.