Measles outbreak prompts urgent reminders to immunise

updated By Potaka Maipi, Te Ao - Māori News

The measles outbreak has forced the closure of many sporting, cultural and community events in the wider Auckland region today.

Among the three District Health Board regions Waitematā, Downtown Auckland and Counties Manukau, approximately 778 cases of the infectious virus have been reported throughout the Super City today.   

According to the latest District Health Board update - there have been 130 cases reported in the Waitematā, with more than 100 cases in downtown Auckland.

Concern is mounting as the numbers rise and Counties Manukau is the experiencing the most severe spike with  520 reported cases in across South Auckland.

Health officials pleaded with families in the Auckland region who have not yet vaccinated their children to do so as soon as possible and contact their local GP by phone or call  Healthline for more information if they had any concerns.

District Health Boards also urged people not to travel to Auckland if they had not been immunised to help reduce the rapid spread of the infection.

Auckland’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr William Rainger said immunisation is the most effective way to reduce the risk of infection.

“Our objective is to limit the spread of the outbreak within Auckland. To protect the most vulnerable people and to promote the uptake of vaccination,” 

Carmel Ellis of Counties Manukau DHB said efforts to give free vaccines would continue throughout the weekend.

“You would have seen that we’ve got a few pop-up clinics, we’ve got one at the Manukau Super clinic and that’s operating all day today and that’s operating tomorrow as well,” she said.  

While many have taken up the opportunity and availability of free vaccines, one mother claims she faced unwarranted backlash because she chose not to vaccinate her children.

Erice Muna Lee says all three of her children contracted the virus.  While she says it was a difficult time for them all, she and her family had no regrets about their decision not to immunise,

In an interview with Te Ao news Lee's daughter said, “I thought that I was going to die and I was freaking out and it doesn’t feel very good, but afterwards I just thought yep I had it."

Muna Lee says the virus spread to all her children and they all became very ill.

 “It doesn’t feel very good when you see your kids go through this, but I just did everything I could to make sure my kids felt very comfortable.  So, it was 3-weeks of sleepless nights. I was up checking temperatures just being aware of any complications that may be setting in."

She says she was faced with a range of challenges as a result of her decision.

"When I did go back to the doctor and he opened the car door and he looked in the door and he said yes they have got measles, he didn’t check them over or anything and he said to me this is what you get when you don’t vaccinate and I was horrified, but because my concern was for my babies, because I read that they could die and he says yes they could die, but that’s what you get when you don’t vaccinate and there’s nothing I can do about it.  I complained and finally received an apology from the organisation. But kei te pai, after watching them and what they went through I know I made the right decision, their bodies are natural - there’s been nothing put into them and so that uncertainty of injecting them with a vaccine was freaking me out more than them getting measles.”

Auckland DHB and the Counties Manukau DHB believe the only true, safe measure is to vaccinate and they've advised anyone with concerns around immunisation to contact and speak directly to medical professionals.

If you have any concerns you can call the Healthline 0800 611 116, contact your local GP by phone.

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