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Vaccines are limited as measles cases rise in the south

There has been a sharp rise in measles cases in Otago-Southland but the Southern District Health Board says it needs to prioritize vaccine use.

In the past 48 hours 13 new measles cases have been confirmed in Queenstown, two in Wanaka and one in Dunedin.

The Southern DHB says people who have had measles and infections over the years have visited many Queenstown restaurants, ski areas, parks and shops over the past few weeks.

The DHB's health officer told Dr Susan Jack Checkpoint there are now 57 cases, with 52 in Queenstown, two in Wanaka, two in Dunedin and one in Oamaru.

Measles had been circulating in Queenstown for some time and now the disease had spread to other communities, she said. Most of the confirmed cases involved Queenstown residents, and only a couple were carriers.

There was adequate vaccine to treat children at 15 months and four years and enough for children who were late in receiving their vaccinations.

They were being prioritized and adults would not receive vaccinations until more supplies became available. If people are unvaccinated, they should look out for symptoms and then isolate themselves.

Even if they had been in areas where there had been people with measles, they would not have been able to be vaccinated.

"We're hoping that in the next few weeks we will get more vaccines. … "

Dr Jack said some people had been isolated and developed the disease but at least they had not spread it to other people.

Isolation prevented measles spread to the most vulnerable people including pregnant women, those with cancer and babies under the age of 12 months.

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