Demand for measles vaccine has risen by 40 percent in June in New Zealand in the wake of a rapidly-spreading outbreak of the disease in the Auckland and Waikato regions.
Waikato DHB's Population Health services reported 84 confirmed measles cases as of late last week. The outbreak has affected five Waikato schools and has led to the cancellation of sports, cultural and academic events.
Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause death or disability. It is easily spread from person to person through the air by breathing, sneezing or coughing.
Medicines New Zealand's Vaccines Group says the recent measles outbreak has highlighted the importance of widespread and up-to-date immunisation to protect the community from such infectious diseases.
"We are inclined to forget how devastating these diseases used to be for past generations who didn't have the benefit of vaccines. Vaccines are one of the most successful and cost effective health interventions ever introduced," says Medicines New Zealand general manager, Kevin Sheehy.
He says this recent outbreak reminds us that maintaining high levels of immunisation in the community are vital if we want to keep these diseases in check and our children healthy.
"As we've seen in this outbreak in a few cases, not everyone is able to develop the same level of immunity to the disease through vaccination. That's why it's so important for everyone around those who are vulnerable to serious complications from the disease to be vaccinated as well."
Mr Sheehy says his member companies work with the health authorities to provide vaccines in outbreak conditions.
"We can assure New Zealanders that our members are able to supply enough measles vaccine to meet current demands."
Medicines New Zealand Vaccines Group includes the vaccines branches of bioCSL, GSK, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi pharmaceutical companies.