July 26, 2022
Tamariki vaccine gap raises measles fear
A child health expert says there’s a worldwide trend of declining youth immunisation rates – and in Aotearoa, it’s specially marked among tamariki Māori.
Dr Anna Howe, a research fellow in paediatrics at the University of Auckland and research analyst at the Immunisation Advisory Centre, says the fear is the trend is making the country vulnerable to outbreaks of diseases like whooping cough and measles.
She says the critical milestone for population immunity is whether children have received their first shots by six months.
“Unfortunately for Māori tamariki that has fallen the fastest and the most so at the moment when you look at that only 65 percent of Māori tamariki are receiving all the immunisations they should have by six months of age,” Dr Howe says.
She says eight-month coverage in Aotearoa is going up, showing the commitment of healthcare workers and other groups to improve rates, but it’s critical to close the gap, particularly for measles.
Some health regions are taking a whole of whanau approach, so they can get tamariki immunised in a timely fashion while also catching up with anyone else in the whānau who may have been missed.