Measles show area vulnerable

The measles outbreak in Hamilton has highlighted the district's vulnerability to preventable disease.

A new quarterly target report from the Ministry of Health has revealed Waikato has the lowest immunisation rate in New Zealand.

The report shows Waikato District Health Board recorded that 84 per cent of babies under the age of eight months had received immunisations.

While most children will not have their first measles-mumps-rubella vaccine until they are 15 months old, the Ministry of Health does suggest in an outbreak infants as young as six months old be vaccinated.

The outbreak in Hamilton, which started at Fraser High School, has now been confirmed at two other prominent schools in the city's west, taking confirmed cases to 49 with 16 under investigation.

On Friday a confirmed case at Hamilton Junior High School forced the school to withdraw from the 2014 Stage Challenge.

Waikato District Health Board Population Health service has advised administrators at Fraser High School and Hamilton Girls' High School to quarantine all students who have not had two MMR vaccines.

Families have been advised to check their immunisation status.

The Ministry of Health said between December 2013 and June 13, 2014, 190 measles cases have been reported in New Zealand - 113 in Auckland, 56 in Waikato, 15 in Bay of Plenty/Lakes, four in Wellington, and two in Hawke's Bay.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said the strain of virus seen in New Zealand recently has been particularly severe.

The Waikato Times asked to speak to Waikato's medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell about the district's low immunity, but were told by Waikato DHB communications director Mary Anne Gill she was unavailable.

Anyone worried about the virus should call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or contact their doctor.

Waikato Times