The Ministry of Health and PHARMAC are pleased to confirm that, subject to final regulatory approval, an additional 100,000 doses of MMR vaccine have been secured for New Zealand. “There has never been such strong demand for MMR vaccine. So far this year 175, 000 vaccines have been given, which compares to 94,000 doses for the same period last year. An additional 52,000 doses of MMR vaccine arrived in New Zealand this week, and processes are being fast-tracked to ensure additional stock is secured and distributed as quickly as possible,” says Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

PHARMAC has been working with suppliers to seek additional supplies of MMR vaccine. Vaccine manufacturing lead times can be lengthy and other countries have reported measles outbreaks which is increasing demand which is in turn limiting supply globally. However, PHARMAC is confident that more MMR vaccine will be sourced and delivered to New Zealand later this year.

We hope to confirm time-frames for arrival in the coming days.

“Due to this unprecedented demand, we are asking New Zealanders to continue to be patient so they can ensure the vaccine can reach those who need it the most, says Dr Bloomfield.

“Children under two years old are those most likely to be hospitalised because of measles. That’s why it is a priority to maintain the national Childhood Immunisation Schedule and ensure all children receive their MMR vaccinations on time at 15 months and 4 years (12 months in Auckland),” says Dr Bloomfield.

“In addition, Auckland’s three DHBs are also focusing on ensuring the vaccine reaches the groups who are most affected by the outbreak.

“Given the large number of cases in Auckland we expect to see other cases of measles being reported elsewhere in New Zealand. We are asking DHBs to try and vaccinate susceptible close contacts within 3 days of their first exposure to measles when possible.

“It’s worth remembering that after one dose of the MMR vaccine, about 95% of people are protected from measles. After the second dose 99% of people are protected. Also, because measles used to be very common, people over the age of 50 are considered immune and don’t need an immunisation.