Immunisation is the key
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.