Bay of Plenty health agencies are advising that the region is experiencing extremely limited supply of the MMR vaccine at this time and will prioritise those young children already scheduled for their routine jabs at 15 months and four years old.
Anyone else is asked to call their GP to register their request for a vaccination, but only if you believe you have never had an MMR vaccination. Adults who received childhood MMR vaccinations are sufficiently covered.
“These requests will start to be met when there are further stocks available, which is unlikely to be any time before Wednesday next week and even then, the region is likely to be in catch-up mode,” says General Practice Services Manager at the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation Phil Back.
The ‘pause’ on supply of the vaccine that the Ministry of Health placed over the weekend continued through to Monday to support a national stocktake to be undertaken.
Today the Ministry has announced that existing stock was being distributed to high priority areas, including Auckland and Dunedin in the first instance, with any residual stock being disbursed across lower priority areas.
Another 52,000 vaccines are expected to arrive in New Zealand within the week, but it’s not yet clear when they will be available for patients in the Bay of Plenty.
Eastern and Western Bay of Plenty will receive 500 vaccines out of 1760 available for the Midland region (including the Waikato, Taranaki, Tairawhiti and Bay of Plenty) and these will be prioritised for scheduled vaccinations for young children. Currently the Midland region has orders in for 7300 vaccines.
“We worked hard with the Bay of Plenty District Health Board to ensure we put our case forward for stock of the vaccine to be directed to the Bay of Plenty,” says Phil.
General practices across the Bay of Plenty are experiencing high numbers of local patients and their families asking for MMR vaccination.
“Those general practices are currently taking names of those wanting to receive the vaccination, so that when Bay of Plenty does receive stock, those patients will be contacted.
“What people need to realise is that there is extremely limited supply of MMR vaccines left in the Bay of Plenty and so we are going to have to wait for further supplies to arrive.”
Tensions have flared at general practices with patients demanding to be vaccinated. But Back is asking for calm and patience.
“It is also important to note if you think you have any symptoms of measles that you call your GP rather than attend in person to help prevent any spread of the disease.”
The WBOP PHO, Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance, Nga Mataapuna Oranga and the BOP DHB are primed to offer free pop-up MMR vaccination clinics in the Western and Eastern Bay of Plenty to ensure all priority groups are vaccinated against measles once more vaccine stock becomes available.
“We understand the level of concern in the community about the measles outbreak, and we have vaccinators and venues at the ready, but until we have the vaccines we can’t proceed. As soon as we can confirm we have vaccine stock available we will implement the pop-up clinics and let people know when, where and how they can access them."
Nationally, priorities for the MMR vaccine are all children, followed by the communities most affected. Only one dose of the MMR vaccine will be offered per person at this stage.
There have been 30 confirmed cases of measles in the Western Bay of Plenty since 1 January 2019.