Measles Preparedness and Patterns of Immunisation

Published: October 26, 2023 · Updated: October 26, 2023

This evidence brief presents insights and lessons learned from past measles outbreaks based on a time-limited scan of online resources, and an analysis of measles immunisation rates of tamariki in Oranga Tamariki care.


Measles is a highly contagious and life-threatening illness but is preventable by getting the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. However, childhood immunisation figures at a national level are lower than the national target. 

Measles has been eliminated in Aotearoa New Zealand, but imported cases have caused outbreaks in the motu. The 2019 measles outbreak saw more than 2000 people infected and more than 700 hospitalised. This year, Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand has confirmed 3 instances of imported measles cases. 

  • Overall, Oranga Tamariki is in a good position to protect tamariki and rangatahi if there is a wider measles outbreak.
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates for tamariki in Oranga Tamariki care are similar to or better than the wider child and youth population, and generally over 90% across ages and ethnicities.
  • However, there is still further work to be done to increase vaccination rates, as not all groups are vaccinated to the consistent 95% or higher rates needed for community-level immunity.
  • Oranga Tamariki in partnership with communities – through a locally-led approach and cross-agency liaison – is well positioned to contribute towards reducing the immunity gap, and supporting tamariki and whānau we work with.
  • Through early support initiatives, we are positively contributing towards influencing at-risk whānau to keep childhood immunisation up to date.
  • Oranga Tamariki should continue cross-agency working and review the quality of MMR vaccination data of tamariki and rangatahi within our rohe.
  • Lessons learned from the COVID-19 response can also be applied in the case of an outbreak, including the experience of the Incidence Response Management and reporting processes.