News & Events

Be a Guardian of the Future: Get a free measles immunisation

28 September 2020

Protect against measles.People aged between 15 and 30 who haven’t had their MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine are urged to get a free immunisation now – even if they’re not sure.

More than 2,000 Kiwis got sick from measles in 2019 and more than 700 needed hospital treatment.

“The measles outbreak in 2019 and the current COVID-19 pandemic have shown the impact infectious diseases can have when we are not immune,” says Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Ramon Pink. “Now is the time to catch up on the vaccinations we have easy access to such as MMR, to protect our community and whānau in the future.”

People born between 1990 and 2005 are most at risk of catching measles – since many didn’t have their scheduled childhood MMR vaccinations. So you are more likely to catch measles and also spread it to others. This is why there is now a national catch-up programme focusing on improving your immunity.

Protect yourself and others against this highly infectious disease

“Measles is more than eight times more infectious than COVID-19. It can make you very sick and affect your health for the rest of your life. Getting a catch-up dose now will make sure you and those around you are protected in the future,” says Dr Pink.

About ninety-five percent of people will be protected by just one dose of MMR. Two doses ensures more than 99 percent of people are protected. The vaccine also protects against mumps and rubella. It is safe to have an MMR even if you are unsure if you have been fully immunised.

“We’re urging everyone aged 15 to 30 years old to get at least one MMR vaccination to help prevent future outbreaks of measles,” says Dr Pink. “Ask your doctor, parents or caregiver if you had two doses of MMR as a kid. If you didn’t or aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to get one MMR dose now.”

Get your for your free measles catch up jab at your local General Practice team in Canterbury and the West Coast. You can also get an MMR catch up from some pharmacies if you are over 16.

MMR is also part of the childhood immunisation schedule. Anyone born after 1969 is still eligible for two free MMR doses.

Source: Canterbury DHB CEO Update (28th September 2020) and West Coast DHB media release (13th October 2020).

Information on COVID-19

12 August 2020

It is not time for us to ease up on our precautions against COVID-19. We’ve been through a lot, and we will get through this too. We’re stronger together.

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Be kind: Unite against COVID-19.Stay home if you feel unwell. Isolate wherever you are and call Healthline (0800 358 5453) about a free COVID-19 test. Getting tested will help keep your community safe.

Keep a track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. This will help health services to quickly stop any possible spread.
Scan QR codes using the NZ COVID Tracer app – available from the Apple Store or Google Play- and enable Bluetooth tracking on your device.
Use the NZ COVID Tracer booklet – available in English and other languages – or keep a diary or calendar if you can’t use the app.

Wash your hands with soap and water often – for at least 20 seconds – and dry thoroughly. This kills the virus by bursting its protective bubble.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. This will keep the virus off your hands so you won’t spread it to other people and make them sick too.

Regularly clean surfaces that get touched frequently.

Maintain physical distancing. Keep a safe distance of 2 metres from people you don’t know while out and about. This will help minimise spread if community transmission returns.

Wear a face covering when on public transport or a domestic flight. You will be keeping your community safe by covering for each other.

What to do if you feel unwell

Stay home if you’re unwell. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.

Call your medical practice or Healthline (0800 358 5453) if you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms. This is to check if you fit the criteria and need to get tested for COVID-19.

The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • a new or worsening cough;
  • fever;
  • shortness of breath;
  • a sore throat;
  • sneezing and a runny nose; or
  • a temporary loss of smell.

Some people may present with less typical symptoms such as only: fever, diarrhoea, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), nausea or vomiting, or confusion or irritability.

Symptoms can take up to 14 days to show after a person has been infected. The virus can be passed onto others before someone knows they have it – from up to two days before symptoms develop.

How to get tested for COVID-19

You can be tested for COVID-19 at most general practices, an after hours urgent care facility or a community-based assessment centre (CBAC).

You can attend a community-based assessment centre if your medical practice does not provide testing or if you are not registered with a medical practice team. You do not need an appointment to attend a community based assessment centre.

Tip: You can also use the NZ COVID Tracer app to find your nearest testing centre. Open the Dashboard and tap the ‘Learn more’ tile. Then tap the ‘Find a testing location’ link to bring up Healthpoint’s list of testing centres.

Testing is free, unless you require a test for travel overseas. You must contact a medical practice if you need a COVID-19 test to travel overseas.

Update on the COVID-19 vaccine

MedSafe granted provisional consent to use the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in New Zealand on 3rd February 2021.

“The provisional approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is a positive step in New Zealand’s fight against COVID-19,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Provisional consent means the pharmaceutical company must meet certain conditions, including supplying more data from its clinical trials around the world as they progress. This will happen at the same time as the vaccine is rolled out. Provisional approval is not uncommon. For instance the annual influenza vaccine is given provisional approval for the same reason.

The Government has four Advance Purchase Agreements for COVID-19 vaccines including the one for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. MedSafe is currently reviewing one other vaccine.

Update on the COVID-19 Immunisation Programme

The COVID-19 Immunisation Programme is continuing to work at pace. The COVID-19 vaccine will be for everyone aged 16 years and over – regardless of their visa or citizenship status.

The vaccine will be free of charge for and will not be mandatory for Kiwis. The best way to protect you, your kaumātua and whānau is to get vaccinated.

Border and MIQ workers and the people they live with are the first group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This reflects the critical role they play, standing between the people of Aotearoa New Zealand and those who might unwittingly bring the virus into our communities, and the higher risk that represents. Mandatory testing of border and MIQ workforce will continue after vaccination.

The second group that are currently getting vaccinated are high-risk frontline workers and people living in high-risk places. This includes:

  • those working in a long-term residential environment;
  • those living in long-term residential care;
  • older Māori or Pacific people being cared for by whanau or aiga;
  • those living in the Counties Manukau DHB area who are over 65, have an underlying health condition or disability, pregnant or living in a custodial setting.

The Ministry of Health expects vaccines will be available for people in Group 3 from May – those over 65, with an underlying health condition or disability, pregnant or living in a custodial setting in the rest of the country.

Everyone else in the country over 16 years can expect to receive their vaccine from July onwards – subject to supply.

“We have come far in the fight against COVID; getting vaccinated is key to locking in the gains we have made and protecting our hard won freedoms,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Christchurch Airport border workers receiving COVID-19 vaccinations

Christchurch Health Protection Officer Debbie Smith shows off her COVID vaccination site. Source: Stuff.co.nz.Stuff.co.nz news article: 24th February 2021

About 40 border workers at Christchurch International Airport are among the first in the city to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health statement said the group included aviation security workers, cleaners, police, Customs workers and health protection officers who screen passengers arriving on international flights.

Health Protection Officer Debbie Smith said getting the COVID-19 vaccine felt like ‘another level of armour’ against the virus.

“I feel like a superhero on the inside now. Working on the frontline, you tend to live your life differently. There have been events I’ve thought twice about going to because of the potential risk I pose and that’s where the vaccination is going to let me live my life a little bit more normally.”

Fellow Health Protection Officer Jimmy Wong said getting vaccinated was a huge relief because it meant greater protection for his family, particularly his 3-month-old baby.

Unite against COVID-19.

Stay informed from reliable sources about COVID-19

Local public health response to novel coronavirus COVID-19

Community and Public Health stood up their Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in just two hours in late January 2020 in response to COVID-19 with staff ceasing ‘business as usual’ work. Every effort, hour and individual has been focused on the response since then, and will likely be the last organisation to wind down. Our staff have been involved in the local COVID-19 response in many ‘behind the scenes’ ways across Canterbury, South Canterbury, West Coast and the Chatham Islands.

Page last updated: 24/04/2018

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