Measles outbreak confirms need for vaccination targets

New Zealand has reached over 1000 cases of measles this year which raises a number of serious questions that the Government must answer.

National believes in having robust targets to ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated against preventable diseases and illnesses such as measles.

However, the current government removed targets for vaccinations and a range of other important health measures when they were elected to office. In light of the recent measles epidemic, this is a reminder of the importance of such targets as it allows the public to hold the Government to account on important health measures.

The fact is, immunisation rates under National were improving. This was due to these health targets, which keep the Ministry, Pharmac and medical professionals accountable for ensuring New Zealanders are protected from dangerous diseases. When the new government scrapped these targets, they took their eye off the ball and the sector followed suit.

As this continues, not only should the Government take immediate action to reinstate these targets, but they should also rapidly authorise pharmacists, who already vaccinate for the flu, to be able to administer the measles vaccine. The Ministry should increase the resource to DHB’s with outbreaks so that they can reach out via schools, clinics and workplaces to administer vaccinations.

The outbreak is also a reminder for everyone to check their own vaccination records to ensure that they are up-to-date.

As the old saying says ‘What gets measured gets done’. I hope that we can all learn from this recent epidemic, that the Government reinstates vaccination targets, and that we can all play our part to ensure outbreaks like this never happen again.

Simeon Brown

MP For Pakuranga