9 February 2023

This newsletter provides approved key messages from Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health and Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand on COVID-19, and in this issue, on measles.

It may also be helpful for some of you to be aware of phone support available due to the flooding events in Auckland and other areas. If you, or someone you know, needs mental wellbeing support or advice then call or text 1737 anytime. There is also some great advice on managing stress in an emergency here:  Managing stress in an emergency | Ministry of Health NZ

In today’s issue:

  • COVID-19 vaccine available to younger children at higher risk of severe illness
  • Changes to eligibility for free COVID-19 healthcare
  • Australian Measles case – information for New Zealand clinicians
  • COVID-19 recognition awards open for health and disability workers
  • Current COVID-19 case data
  • Weekly COVID-19 Trends and Insights interactive dashboard
  • Variants of Concern updated

COVID-19 vaccine now available to younger children at higher risk of severe illness

The Pfizer vaccine now available at nominated vaccination clinics across the motu. Eligible children include those who are severely immunocompromised, or who have complex and/or multiple health conditions which increase the risk of severe COVID-19.

Children aged 6 months to 4 years who do not have these health conditions have a very low likelihood of severe illness from COVID-19 infection and are therefore not eligible to have the vaccine.

Parents and guardians of eligible children can book a vaccine by calling Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 or visiting www.BookMyVaccine.nz

Changes to eligibility for free COVID-19 healthcare

From 13 February, some people will need to pay for COVID-related visits to their local healthcare provider as part of a move towards managing COVID in a similar way to other public health diseases. Free COVID healthcare will continue to be available for people at higher risk of becoming very sick with COVID.

We encourage you to use the resources via the link below to communicate with your own stakeholders and networks.

Australian measles case – information for New Zealand clinicians

Clinicians have been reminded by Te Whatu Ora to look out for, and report, any suspected measles cases. This follows confirmation of a Melbourne case linked to flight ETD462/EY462, Abu Dhabi, UAE to Melbourne, departed: Abu Dhabi Airport, 27 January, 10:15 am, arrived Melbourne: Saturday, 28 January, 6 am.

The risk of community transmission in New Zealand from this flight is low, but it is a timely reminder for getting people up to date with their immunisations.

The best protection against measles is the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The MMR vaccination is free for anyone born after 1968 that hasn’t had two doses.

The first dose of MMR vaccine is due at 12 months of age. Vaccination is vital due to the risk of severe disease in this age group. Ensure tamariki are recalled before their first birthday so this dose can be delivered on time.  If you work in this area, please be aware that many children have missed out on their scheduled MMR during the last 3 years due to lockdowns. There are also a number of people aged 17 – 32 years who have missed out on 2 doses of MMR. If it’s part of your role, please offer opportunistic vaccination to this cohort.

MMR is contraindicated in pregnancy because it is a live vaccine but can be given immediately post-partum.

The local public health team will advise regarding vaccination of any close contacts. The MMR vaccine, if given within 72 hours of exposure to measles virus, may provide protection to the unimmunised and help limit the spread of measles.

Please call IMAC with any questions regarding vaccination of a patient, particularly if the person is immunocompromised.

COVID-19 recognition awards open 

Register now for the COVID-19 Response Recognition Award

Since March 2020, the New Zealand Health and Disability system has provided care and support to over 2 million COVID-19 cases. We could not have done this mahi without the support, commitment and manaakitanga of our COVID-19 Health and Disability frontline response and operational support teams.

If you were part of the Health and Disability workforce, you may be eligible for the COVID-19 Response Recognition Award. Registrations close 3 March 2023.

Current COVID-19 Case Data

In the week to 7 February there were:

  • 8882 new COVID-19 cases reported, an average of 1263 a day.
  • Of these cases reported, 3594 were reinfections, and of those 246 were reinfection within 90 days of a previous infection.
  • 161 COVID-19 cases were in hospital, with 7 cases in ICU.
  • 25 people had died, 15 with COVID-19 as underlying, and 10 with COVID-19 as contributory.

COVID-19 Trends and Insights interactive dashboard

The dashboard has now been published on the Ministry’s website. It can be found at the link below, alongside some additional, explanatory information.

Variants of concern updated

A variants of concern update was published by the Ministry of Health on 7 February. Read the report below, noting new content is in red.

Subscribe to COVID-19 health key messages

If you know someone who would like to subscribe to COVID-19 health key messages they can do this on the Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health website. You can also access previous editions there too.

Unite against COVID-19 website

Visit covid19.govt.nz for further guidance on COVID-19. There is also a range of resources tailored for different groups, such as translations and alternate formats.

COVID-19 Āwhina app

Āwhina is the best way to stay up to date with the latest information for the health and disability sector. You’ll get regular notifications to your phone.

Sourced from Ministry of Health New Zealand