The south island of New Zealand is witnessing a measles outbreak, with 22 confirmed cases so far, while one-fifth of the Canterbury region having had no or incomplete vaccination against the disease.
While New Zealand’s third-largest city, Christchurch, and surrounding regions run out of vaccines, parents are living in fear that their children would contract the disease.
The outbreak follows a global trend, seen especially also in wealthy countries such as the US and Germany, of a rising number of measles cases amidst parents opposing vaccination on religious grounds or based on misinformation.
According to health officials, people who were not fully immunised are the source of the outbreak. According to the health ministry, all cases of measles in New Zealand since 2012 came from travellers.
The highly contagious viral disease, which affects babies easily, has symptoms such as high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth.
The global measles deaths have decreased by 84 per cent worldwide in recent years — from 550,100 deaths in 2000 to 89,780 in 2016.
The measles vaccine has been in use since the 1960s. The safe, effective and inexpensive are to be administered to children twice.