Minister Julie Anne Genter launches $40 million measles campaign


The Government is to invest up to $40 million towards a measles catch-up campaign to immunise 300,000 people aged between 15 and 30 years.


Announcing the campaign, Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter said the Government had secured an extra 350,000 doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.


“We are making it as easy as possible for young people, Māori and Pasifika people especially, to get vaccinated."


The Māori and Pasifika communities are over-represented in New Zealand's measles cases.


Ms Genter said previous governments had not prioritised measles vaccinations in the community, resulting in the country falling below the 95 per cent herd-immunity point needed to prevent measles outbreaks. 


“Covid-19 has disrupted immunisation programmes around the world, increasing the risk of severe outbreaks once travel resumes," she said.


“That’s why we’re doing a catch-up campaign focused on the roughly 300,000 young adults aged between 15 and 30 who are not immune to measles, as their immunisation rate is generally too low to prevent a measles outbreak."


New Zealand saw 2194 cases of measles since January 1 last year. There have been no measles cases in the country since January 24, 2020.


Ms Genter said district health boards were rolling out their measles campaigns, followed by a national campaign later in the year.


She said the National Immunisation Register, set up in 2005, was "no longer fit for purpose". The Government's National Immunisation Solution was expected to better monitor those who are receiving measles immunisations and to help roll out of a mass vaccination programme following the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.