Measles outbreak: Health and education ministries to work together to prevent spread of illness – Stuff.co.nz

Health and education officials have launched a joint approach to stop the spread of measles in schools. 

The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday, in an attempt to slow or stop the outbreak gripping the country.

There have been more than 1800 cases of measles in New Zealand since the start of the year. Most of these had been in unvaccinated people, or those who did not know their vaccination status. 

Government ministries are seeking to find more out about schools' immunity rates against measles.

Government ministries are seeking to find more out about schools’ immunity rates against measles.

The memorandum would allow information on schools’ overall vaccination rates – the number and percentage of students fully vaccinated against measles – to be calculated by the Ministry of Health using national immunisation register data. 

READ MORE: 
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That information would then be shared with local public health officers to help them better understand school immunity rates. 

It applied only to Auckland schools, and would be in place until the outbreak is over. 

If a student contracted measles, the agreement would also allow for information on individual students’ vaccination status to be provided to local public health officers.

Director of public health for the Ministry of Health, Dr Caroline McElnay said the top priority was to stop the outbreak and protect “our most vulnerable”. 

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness, and is easily spread where people gather together – such as schools. 

There have been 1495 measles cases in Auckland alone this year

The agreement would also allow for information on individual students' vaccination status to be given to local public health officers to help reduce the spread of measles in schools.

belchonock/123RF

The agreement would also allow for information on individual students’ vaccination status to be given to local public health officers to help reduce the spread of measles in schools.

Nationally, most cases were in those aged between 20-29 (594 cases), followed by those aged 10-19 (361). 

Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter said this measles outbreak had uncovered “many areas for improvement, and we will keep looking for opportunities to do things better”. 

Genter said better funding for our health and education systems had enabled collaboration to make improvements such as this. 

“I know that this improvement will help our kids and future responses to outbreaks.” 

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