Im­proved ac­cess to im­mu­ni­sa­tion needed: PM Jacinda Ardern

Fiji Sun - - Asia News - Welling­ton: RNZ

There’s a measles out­break in Auck­land - but not the rest of the coun­try, New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern says, and we need to im­prove ac­cess to im­mu­ni­sa­tion. Her com­ments come as health au­thor­i­ties are warn­ing the measles out­break in Auck­land has not yet reached a peak and they ex­pect cases to con­tinue to climb for the next two weeks. The PM told yes­ter­day: “By and large we do have 91 per cent of our two-yearolds who have re­ceived their im­mu­ni­sa­tion.

“But what we know is that herd immunity ac­tu­ally re­quires us to get up to about the 95 per cent mark ... We have to get our im­mu­ni­sa­tion up. That’s the an­swer.

“We have an out­break, we have an out­break in Auck­land, and that’s driv­ing those num­bers for us out­side of Auck­land. I had a good con­ver­sa­tion with the di­rec­tor gen­eral (of health) and ... in the 1990s we had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence in New Zealand, but did man­age to get those rates of im­mu­ni­sa­tion up.

“He refers to the is­sue of im­mu­ni­sa­tion hes­i­tancy. So there’s been a lot of fo­cus on whether or not it’s been a strong anti-vax move­ment. And I think there’s been a con­tri­bu­tion there but I think over­all, what we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in New Zealand is a hes­i­tancy. Now in part, I think that’ll be ac­cess.”

She said ac­cess to im­mu­ni­sa­tion should not be an is­sue. “What we are talk­ing about here is a free vac­ci­na­tion and for chil­dren it’s, of course, free to visit a doc­tor and it’s free to get vac­ci­na­tions but we do need to make sure we are bring­ing that ser­vice to where peo­ple are.” And that was es­sen­tially what the gov­ern­ment was do­ing in Auck­land with its re­sponse to measles, she said.

But she said im­mu­ni­sa­tion tar­gets didn’t de­liver what was needed.

“No-one is ques­tion­ing here that we have to get im­mu­ni­sa­tion rates up. It’s got to be how we work with DHBs to make sure that’s hap­pen­ing, so do­ing things like di­rectly fund­ing nurses ... get­ting peo­ple in schools, open­ing them up in com­mu­nity clin­ics, that’s the kind of be­hav­iour we need.” Ms Ardern said na­tion­wide education about vac­ci­na­tions in gen­eral was needed.

New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern.

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