Mumps hit Pacific and Maori in Auckland despite free vaccine

Pacific and Maori communities in Auckland have been hit hard this year following a severe mumps outbreak with more than 500 people affected, despite free vaccine.



At the start of October, Auckland’s Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) stated more than 500 people had confirmed or likely cases of mumps in the past 10 months.


It’s almost twice as many as those who caught the illness in the 20 years prior - from 1997 to 2017 – where just 286 people caught the illness.


The outbreak has hit Pacific and Maori communities and those aged between 10 and 24 the hardest.


While about 80% of children aged up to 12 are immunised against mumps, Dr Josephine Herman from says there was now a “lost generation” of young people in their mid-20s, who weren’t fully immunised, due to changes made in 2001 to the age at which children were supposed to get their second dose.


National immunisation data also shows only 42 per cent of Maori and 45 per cent of Pacific children were immunised.


Mumps can be prevented by a free vaccine available from local doctors.


“We need people to ensure they have had two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine,” Dr Hermann says.


What is Mumps?


Mumps can cause painful swelling of the gland around the face and jaw, fever and headaches. It is spread through the air by breathing, coughing and sneezing. Mumps can also cause meningitis and encephalitis.


The MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella – also known as German measles) immunisation vaccine needs to be taken when they are 15 months old. A second immunisation is required when they are four years old. They need two injections for protection.


The vaccine is given by an injection in the arm or leg. Studies show the MMR vaccine will protect more than 95% of people if they have both doses (at 15 months and 4 years).


A small number of people who are immunised may still become ill. If that happens, they will usually get a milder illness than people who have not been immunised.