Government considering whether to enlist pharmacists to give measles vaccines - PM

The Government is looking into the idea of pharmacies being able to give measles vaccines, as the number of cases continues to grow.

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Hitting 963 cases today, Director General Ashley Bloomfield said the number of measles cases is still yet to peak. Source: 1 NEWS

"Immunisation is the best way to fight this outbreak," the Prime Minister said today.

Jacinda Ardern said there have been 963 confirmed cases since March, with Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter asking officials to investigate allowing pharmacists to administer measles vaccines.

"At present the only place we consider there to be an outbreak is Auckland, particularly South Auckland," Ms Ardern said.

The Ministry of Health is also training 25 additional nurses to be able to give the vaccines.

Ministry of Health’s Director-General Ashley Bloomfield said additional vaccine opportunities are being focused in South Auckland.

Dr Bloomfield said the number of measles cases in New Zealand was still trending upwards.

"We’re expecting it to keep going up for another week or two and then to peak and drop away.

"It’s very important that we therefore keep focusing on immunising children in the 15- to 29-year age group in the Auckland area, particularly in South Auckland, to stop the current outbreak."

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Public health officials are telling organisers thinking of cancelling events to check with them first. Source: 1 NEWS

He called the vaccine "highly effective", with "vaccine hesitancy" being the main barrier against people being vaccinated rather than people who are anti-vaxxers.

"It’s not an issue of opposition, it’s an issue of access," he added.

Earlier today, National’s Dr Shane Reti called for pharmacists to be able to give measles vaccines.

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Dr William Rainger says there are now 804 confirmed cases. Source: 1 NEWS

"Up to a quarter of pharmacists in my local region of Northland are vaccination-qualified and in times of a serious outbreak such as this, we should be making use of that resource," he said. 

"Vaccination-qualified pharmacists are currently able to vaccinate for flu injections but are not reimbursed for vaccines such as the measles vaccine.

"It’s important that the Government mobilises every available option to bring this outbreak to an end, because right now, it’s only getting worse."