• Neil Kirton
Associate Minister of Health

Associate Health Minister Neil Kirton added his voice to calls for parents and caregivers to ensure their children were adequately protected against measles in light of an epidemic predicted to occur within the next two years.

Mr Kirton says although the calculations used to predict the epidemic were complex, the solution was simple - ensure children are adequately immunised.

To provide adequate protection all children should receive two immunisation shots, the first at 15 months and the second at 11 years.

I am pleased to see that the efforts to control this disease now including making measles a notifiable disease and that there are plans starting to be put in place to deal with the predicted outbreak.

Preventative measures for outbreaks also rely on immunisation - though there is a lag before immunisation provides protection which is why parents and caregivers should act earlier rather than later.

Ministry of Health estimates predict an epidemic in 1997 or 1998 of a similar size to previous outbreaks in 1991 and 1985. The predicted outbreak will infect around 40,000 individuals resulting in at least 600 hospitalisations, 12 cases of encephalitis (brain inflammation) and seven deaths.

Mr Kirton says he supports Ministry of Health plans to ensure there is an adequate response throughout the country to prevent this epidemic.