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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Vaccine Debate: Report of the Health Select Committee's Inquiry into "How to improve immunisation completion rates" in New Zealand

Before you read the letter that follows, you might like to read these articles listed here that outline my views on the issues surrounding vaccinations.

While I may be opposed to giving otherwise healthy children the Flu vaccine, I am in favour of giving them a tetanus vaccine - but not to an infant, that's for sure!

The vaccine debate has polarised into two opposing camps - those vehemently pro-vaccine and those who are equally vehemently opposed.  There is no middle ground left.  Both of these opposing sides are wrong as far as I am concerned.

Both camps are far too emotionally involved and entrenched to be able to make the right decisions - Decisions that are in the best interests of the children.

I feel for the tens of thousands of parents who are the confused meat in the sandwich of this fight and who may end up with no choice at the end of the day, other than compulsory vaccination for just about every bug under the sun.

Katherine Smith, editor 
The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine 
PO Box 44-128 
Point Chevalier 
Auckland 1246 

Dear Friends, 

On March 24, 2011, the Report of the Health Select Committee's Inquiry into "How to improve [increase] immunisation [vaccination] completion  rates" in New Zealand which was published on the parliamentary website. The government has 90 days (from March 24) to respond to the report. The government's response to this report is due on June 22.  

The Health Select Committee (under the leadership of Dr Paul Hutchison) has produced a report that recommends raising the targeted vaccination completion rate to 95% for NZ children aged 0-4.  It also proposes a target be set for 11 year olds. 

The report also recommends that the government make children's enrollment at school and early childhood centres dependent on parents producing proof of their children's vaccination status and – even more ominously – suggests that government direct the Ministry of Health to consider linking "existing parental benefits" to vaccination. (See Page 6 of the Report.) 

If the government accepts the recommendations in the report, it appears that parents will be forced to choose whether their child has no vaccinations – or all vaccinations on the schedule – in order to be able to supply the documentation necessary to enroll their child in a school or early childhood education centre.  Eligibility for the 20 Hours Free Early Childhood Education may also be restricted to children who have had all recommended vaccinations (or whose parents have decided against vaccination) according to Page 33 of the Report.  Christians (and others) who decide against MMR vaccination because of the use of cells derived from aborted foetal tissue in its production* (or for any other reason) could be particularly badly affected if the government  adopts these sort of discriminatory policies. 

Clear Conflict of Interest

The recommendations to link ECE 20 hours free funding to vaccination come from Dr Nikki Turner, who works for the Immunisation Advisory Centre. IMAC claims to be "a local source of independent, factual information including benefits and risks regarding immunisation, and vaccine-preventable disease." 
However its site discloses that it receives funding from the Ministry of Health... and also that “Private industry offers some minimal funding for special projects…”    (See:  )  The site used to have a page that displayed the logos of five major vaccine companies that the organisation acknowledged as sponsors, but it was removed after it was publicised.
A cursory look at IMAC's website shows that the organisation, far from being "independent" is vociferously pro-vaccine and much of the information on their website downplays the risks of vaccines to the point of being factually inaccurate.  (See below for examples.)

Despite Dr Nikki Turner's working for an organisation that has even acknowledged its vaccine company funding, the Report of the Health Select Committee has recommended adopting her recommendations when "where there is a clear evidence base for doing so within the resources available."
Vaccines: Far from "Benign"

It is important to realise that vaccination is not a benign health promoting procedure but a medical intervention that puts a healthy recipient at risk of side effects, including death.  There is an on-line memorial to babies, children and adults who have suffered serious side effects or died following vaccination at the following link:

In fact, new research now correlates increased numbers of vaccinations in the first year of life with increased infant mortality.

This underlines the importance of parents (and everyone else) being able to make a free and fully informed choice about vaccination.
The Report of the Health Select Commitee on vaccination rates represents a significant attack on parents' rights to make health care decisions for their children. 

We are in an election year; if you disagree with the recommendations in the report,  please act NOW to let all political parties know that you find this unacceptable. 

Please forward this message widely and visit the website  as soon as you can for more information and for ideas on how you can help with the campaign to resist the erosion of human rights threatened by this Report.  There is a template letter that you can email to politicians and email addresses on the Resources page of the site.  Thank you. 

Yours sincerely, 

Katherine Smith 

[1]  For example, the page for parents about measles on IMAC's site states:

 "Can the MMR vaccine cause autism? NO. Extensive research shows there is no evidence that MMR vaccine causes autism – or any other behavioral or neurological disorder."  [Original emphasis]
This statement is untrue.  There is considerable evidence that the MMR can cause regressive autism (and other forms of brain damage) in some children, as the authors of one study acknowledged.  

“These results show that primary pediatric MMR vaccination in children is associated with a marked Increase in serious neurological disorders in comparison to DTwcP vaccination.  The increase is statistically significant for cerebellar ataxia, autism, mental retardation and permanent brain damage following primary pediatric MMR vaccination in comparison to DTwcP vaccination. The results are remarkable considering that DTwcP vaccination has been found by the scientific and medical communities to be responsible for permanent neurological sequalae in children.” [emphasis added]
(NB:  DTwcP is a vaccine containing antigens from Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis.  The “wc” indicates that the pertussis component is a “whole cell”  pertussis vaccine i.e. that it contains whole, killed pertussis bacteria.)

Another example from IMAC's website:

"Is the [pneumococcal] vaccine safe? No serious reactions have been associated with pneumococcal vaccines."
However, the manufacturer's datasheet on Medsafe's website states:
"As with other paediatric vaccines, there have been spontaneous reports of apnoea in temporal association with the administration of Prevenar..."
As a parent, I would consider apnoea (temporary cessation of breathing) in a young baby after vaccination to a very serious reaction, wouldn't you?  
IMAC obviously disagrees.  (The pneumococcal vaccine on the NZ vaccination schedule "Prevenar", is manufactured by Wyeth, one of IMAC's sponsors according to the page – since removed – that was on the organisation's website in 2010.)
(Links from the IMAC website are as accessed in 2010) 

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

if vaccinations don't work, they don't work - tetanus is no less bogus than the others!