Improved access to immunisation needed: PM Jacinda Ardern
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.