Work is underway to further strengthen New Zealand’s management of communicable disease outbreaks in response to recommendations from two newly published reports.
The Ministry of Health is releasing two reports it commissioned into this year’s influenza immunisation campaign and last year’s measles outbreak in Auckland.
From January 1, 2019, New Zealand had 2194 cases of measles.
This year, there have been no measles cases in New Zealand since January 24, 2020.
“It’s vital we learn lessons from outbreaks to ensure we’re in a strong position to best respond to the current COVID pandemic as well as prevent and respond to future outbreaks,” says Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
“In particular, both reports have identified important lessons that will inform preparation for rollout of a COVID-19 immunisation programme, when a safe and effective vaccine is approved for use here.
“We recognise there were some difficulties with vaccine distribution during this year’s influenza immunisation campaign and last year’s measles outbreak, leading to supply interruptions for providers.”
This has been a record year for flu vaccines, with more than 1.77 million vaccines already distributed to general practices, pharmacists and other providers.
Ashley says the Ministry is currently working with PHARMAC and the supplier to boost the number of the vaccines available for the 2021 season.
He says they will work with providers to assist with planning, tracking and delivery of orders.
“These two reports contain valuable findings and recommendations on ways we can better control communicable diseases here in Aotearoa.
“Both have already informed aspects of the COVID-19 response.”