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The Government’s messaging around the current measles outbreak is confused and often contradictory and that’s not helping people at risk of contracting the disease, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“In spite of multiple outbreaks of measles across the country, the Government has left it to DHBs to set their own policies on vaccination even though the scale of the outbreak shows central leadership is needed.

“The main outbreak is in Auckland, and despite the Auckland Regional Public Health Service leading on national messaging, sometimes their advice is in direct conflict with the Ministry of Health’s own published advice.

“For example, it’s unclear whether Aucklanders aged between five and 15 are a current priority for vaccination, as the guidelines from the Ministry and ARPHS differ. People who need and should get vaccines will miss out if the guidelines aren’t consistent.

“It’s also problematic that the DHBs nearest to Auckland have different vaccination policies to each other and to Auckland. The Waikato DHB website openly states that people over five cannot be vaccinated due to ‘limited vaccine supply’, despite Julie Anne Genter’s insistence that there’s no issue with vaccine supplies.

“Health Minister David Clark and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter were asleep at the wheel and removed the previous Government’s health targets which resulted in higher vaccination rates. They then missed the warning signs of an outbreak and took too long to order more vaccines.

“We don’t even know when the promised 100,000 vaccines will be arriving. Measles cases are continuing to increase nationally, with 1,600 confirmed cases and Southern DHB reaching 50 cases this week.

“The Government has let measles get out of control, and it’s time for it to show some leadership.”

Notes to editors: Some examples of the conflicting advice currently available to the public on measles can be found here, here, here and here.

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