Etu Pasifika Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine drive keeping families safe

This weekend, Etu Pasifika, the largest health provider for Pacific families in Canterbury, will be offering free measle vaccinations to their community who can receive the vaccine from the comfort of their cars.

An outbreak in New Zealand in 2019 affected mostly Pacific and Māori children who had not been vaccinated and quickly spread throughout the community, resulting in over 2000 cases and over 700 hospital admissions. This showed the high risk amongst the Pacific community and highlighted the need to improve vaccinations.

Nursing manager for Etu Pasifika, Matty Teata, is encouraging families to take advantage of the free vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR Vaccine) to protect their households. More than 15 Etu Pasifika staff members are preparing to accommodate families, with no appointment needed and getting their shots administered in their cars.

“Like Covid-19, the measles is transmitted by droplets in the air and can rapidly spread.  There is no cure, and we encourage our at risk Pacific families to get the best protection, which is immunisation.

Our families share accommodation space and live in intergenerational homes and that is the fastest form of transmission within our communities.”

She encourages everyone under the age of 50 who have never had the vaccine before or cannot remember if they have been immunised, to get vaccinated.  She says the two injections needed, given 4 weeks apart,  gives 99% protection from catching measles and spreading it to the community.

“Some people maybe scared or worried about the vaccine. But this is the best protection that we have at the moment and is the best way to keep our families and community safe.”

Teata says the vaccinations have been such a priority for the area that they are open to not only providing this service to Pasifika families but also to other families within the wider community.

Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) member and public health physician, Dr Corina Grey, says the measles vaccine is just as important as getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The year 2021 has been described as the year of the vaccine because we have several important vaccines for people to get, and the measles vaccine is vital because of the significant outbreak we had in New Zealand in 2019.

Sadly, there was a case that went from New Zealand to Samoa where there was an epidemic and more than 80 people died in Samoa from measles.”

Dr Grey says that there are people in the population who had never received the measles vaccine, particularly people aged between 15-30, and it’s important to bridge that gap.

“If you’re not sure if you have had the vaccine, it doesn’t hurt to get it again. So, we are encouraging people who are in this group, to contact their GP and get immunised.”

The MMR vaccine drive is this Saturday 27th March from 9am – 4pm at Etu Pasifika, 173 Montreal Street, Christchurch City. 

For more information call 0800 388 727 or email admin@etupasifika.co.nz

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Date: Tuesday 23 March