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Huge demand for MMR vaccine amidst Canterbury measles outbreak
14 March 2019, 05:28 | Randall Craig
Justin Sullivan Getty Images
An outbreak of measles in New Zealand's South Island kept spreading while health authorities order emergency supplies of vaccines.
Thousands of MMR vaccines are being delivered to Canterbury as its measles outbreak widens to 20 confirmed cases this weekend. They will be available for use from Wednesday.
New Zealand's ministry of health said in a statement in late February that since 2012 all cases of measles in New Zealand came from travelers bringing the disease from overseas.
The advent of anti-vaxxer groups (people who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children against vaccine-preventable infections), has resulted in a number of sporadic outbreaks of measles across developed nations around the world.
"Children who have not yet been immunized are at the greatest risk from the disease, so it's important to make sure you and your family are up to date with their immunizations", the minister said. About one out of four people who get the measles will be hospitalized.
Health experts are warning that for everyone in Canterbury to be protected against measles, 95 percent of people would need to be fully immunised against it. Before scientists developed the vaccine, between 3 and 4 million people caught measles and 500 died from it each year in the USA, according to the agency. Those aged between 29 and 50 will only have had one measles vaccination and are not considered immune.
Canterbury's District Health Board said: "The number of confirmed cases.is likely to rise further over the coming days and weeks". For information about other measles cases in Washington, visit the Washington State Department of Healthmeasles webpage.
"We give a child its last dose of measles, mumps, rubella when they were 4 or 5 or 6 years old - before they enter kindergarten - and then they don't get it again, if ever, for the rest of their lives", he said.
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