Im­mu­ni­sa­tion is the key

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Porirua is vul­ner­a­ble to a measles out­break like the one which has af­fected 94 peo­ple so far in Auck­land.

Porirua’s measles im­mu­ni­sa­tion rate is 87 per cent, well be­low the safe level of 95 per cent rec­om­mended by health authorities.

Measles is a highly in­fec­tious vi­ral in­fec­tion, spread by breath­ing, cough­ing and sneez­ing, and can cause pneu­mo­nia, ear in­fec­tion, di­ar­rhoea, brain in­flam­ma­tion and death. There is no cure for measles and the only pro­tec­tion against it is vac­ci­na­tion.

Porirua ranks be­low the na­tional av­er­age of 89 per cent im­mu­nised against measles, and lags be­hind the over­all Welling­ton re­gion’s 91 per cent.

Par­ents must en­sure their chil-

‘‘I guess it’s just life gets in the way.’’

An­other bar­rier is the fears some par­ents still have about a link be­tween the MMR vac­cine and autism. The link was sug­gested in the 1990s by Bri­tish doc­tor Andrew Wake­field, and has been thor­oughly dis­cred­ited, Mrs Hart­ley says.

How­ever, some peo­ple, es­pe­cially mid­dle-class par­ents, stop their chil­dren be­ing vac­ci­nated be­cause of autism fears.

‘‘ The dam­age was enor­mous,’’ Mrs Hart­ley says. ‘‘Un­for­tu­nately there’s still a mis­con­cep­tion out there that there is a link.’’

New Zealand’s last measles epi­demic was in 1997 when 2000 peo­ple, mostly ba­bies and chil­dren, were in­fected. This year there have been two measles cases in Welling­ton, one in Jan­uary and one in Fe­bru­ary.

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