Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand MMR administrator Katie Holmquist (far right) presented Student Health staff (from left) Margaret Perley, Katherine Martin, Heather Parnell, Mel Philip, Aleisha Telford and Rhonda Drummond with a gift basket and certificate for their mahi vaccinating Pasifika students against measles, mumps, and rubella.
Student Health staff have been recognised for their “outstanding” mahi in enabling Pasifika students to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).
The clinic is one of the top healthcare providers to deliver the vaccination to members of the Pasifika community as part of the Southern Measles Campaign.
On Wednesday 20 July, staff were presented with a gift basket and certificate by Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand MMR administrator Katie Holmquist.
“We are really pleased to see the MMR being delivered to Pasifika people through Student Health and it is a pleasure to recognise their mahi,” Ms Holmquist says.
Measles cases have increase by 79 per cent worldwide compared with the same time last year, which increases the chances of an outbreak in New Zealand.
Student Health Clinical Group Leader – Nursing Katherine Martin estimated staff have given out hundreds of MMR vaccinations this year. While the aim was to get as many people vaccinated against MMR as possible, there was a particular interest in Pasifika students.
Some of the Pacific islands do not have full MMR vaccinations in their health programmes – many have measles and rubella, but not mumps – and therefore some students who travel to Otago are not fully vaccinated, Ms Martin says.
Since there had been measles and mumps outbreaks around the University in the past, it was important to ensure students were fully vaccinated, she says. “We pick up quite a lot of people through our health science vaccination programme and opportunistically.”
Student Health hosts outreach clinics for influenza, meningitis and MMR vaccinations at the University's Pacific Island Centre, Māori Centre, and residential colleges. Clinics for all vaccinations are also held.
“We've been running special vaccination clinics all year, which we do every year, including additional walk in clinics,” Ms Martin says.
While it was pleasing to see so many students take the opportunity to get vaccinated, staff were always keen to see more.
“We would really like to encourage students to check that they are fully vaccinated and if they're not sure then to come in and see us. A lot of vaccinations are free, including the MMR.”
Everyone in New Zealand is entitled to two MMR vaccinations in their lifetime.