Immunising children against measles is an urgent priority say GPs

8 February 2023

Category: Media releases


The rates of childhood immunisation for measles are concerning and The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners is urging parents and caregivers to take the threat of this disease seriously.

Current childhood immunisation rates, especially for measles, are well below the recommended level of 90 percent, and the figures are significantly lower for Māori and Pasifika tamariki, which increases the risk of poor outcomes from a potential measles outbreak.

Dr Bryan Betty, College Medical Director says, “I am deeply concerned. Measles can have devastating effects on our young ones due to the speed at which it can spread within a whānau or community, and the potential for serious complications.

“We saw this, sadly, in 2019 when 80 children tragically died from a measles outbreak in Samoa. Now the borders have reopened, there is the risk of measles being brought into the country from overseas. This, combined with falling childhood immunisation rates, makes us more vulnerable to this disease.

“We need immunisation rates to be 90 percent or higher to give protection to the population, especially to babies who can’t receive their first measles immunisation until 12 months.

“GPs are urging parents and whānau to visit their local general practice, or community Māori and Pasifika health providers and get their young ones immunised as soon as possible,“ says Dr Betty.

Read more about the symptoms and effects of measles.

Childhood immunisations are provided free of charge and the full childhood immunisation schedule can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website.