Waitemata DHB paediatrician Tim Jelleyman says parents must make up-to-date immunisation a priority. Photo / Waitemata DHB

Year 9 and 10 students in five West Auckland schools are being targeted in a new campaign to check they have not missed out on the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Waitemata DHB announced today it is rolling out the programme in a move to combat the current mumps outbreak in Auckland which has already affected 757 people this year as of yesterday afternoon.

The majority of cases are children aged between 10 and 29 and in West and South Auckland.

Immunisation consent forms will be sent to parents and caregivers this week and the vaccinations will take place at schools in the last two weeks of the school term.

Year 11 and 12 students, who are now on study leave and sitting exams, will be offered the vaccine at school at the start of term 1 next year, or can elect to get it for free at their doctor’s office.

The Ministry of Health recommended children have a dose of the MMR vaccine at 15 months and a second dose at 4 years old.

The outbreak had mainly affected young people because many children missed out on their second vaccination in 2001 when the age of the second jab was changed from 11 to 4.

The now-discredited MMR controversy from 1998 onwards may have also affected immunisation rates, according to the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

According to national immunisation data, the coverage rates in young children up to the age of 12 years were about 80 per cent. Today’s mid-20-year-olds had even lower rates, with a national coverage survey reporting that only 60 per cent of Pakeha children were fully immunised in 1991, with lower rates for Maori (42 per cent) and Pacific children (45 per cent).

Waitemata DHB paediatrician Dr Tim Jelleyman urged parents to make sure their children’s immunisation was up to date.

“The only way to be sure your child is protected from needless suffering and the risk of potential hospitalisation is to have them immunised.”

Anyone who does not have a record of whether their children have received the two doses should have them vaccinated anyway as there is no health risk associated with a third dose, according to the Ministry of Health.

Source: NZ Herald

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