The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

‘Proposed changes to immunisation policy infringe parents’ rights’ Katherine Smith – co-editor of The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine

Proposed changes to immunisation policy infringe parents’ rights
“An assault on parents’ rights to choose their children’s health care” – that’s how Katherine Smith, co-editor of The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine describes the recommendations in the Report of the Health Select Committee’s Inquiry into how to improve immunisation completion rates, released on March 24, 2011. 
She explains: “Currently NZ parents can choose freely whether they want their child to have all, some or none of the  vaccinations on the national vaccination schedule, according to what they believe is best for their child.  They can also choose to delay vaccines if their child is unwell or they would simply prefer to wait until their baby to be a little older before s/he is vaccinated.  If the government accepts the recommendations in this report, it appears that parents will be forced to choose between their child having all vaccines on the vaccination schedule – or no vaccines at all – or face considerable penalties.”
If the government accepts the recommendations in the Report, one of the penalties that parents (and children) could face if they do not comply with the new vaccination policy is lack of access to education.  One of the recommendations on the report proposes that children will only be able to enrol in an early childhood centre or school if their parents can produce a certificate stating the the child is fully vaccinated for their age or a signed statement that they have decided against vaccinating their child.  
Moreover, continuing access to 20 Hours Free ECE could be made dependent on children’s vaccination status.  
The report also recommends that the government consider linking children’s vaccination status “to exisiting parental benefits”, which suggests that parents whose children have not had all the recommended vaccines could potentially face loss of government benefits such as Family Support payments.
The government has six weeks from the release of the report to decide whether or not it will accept the recommendations, including a recommendation to adopt the “Six star plan” presented to the Health Select Committee by Dr Nikki Turner.  Dr Nikki Turner is the Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC). Until 2010, IMAC’s website disclosed that the organisation received funding from the Ministry of Health as well as five of the major manufacturers and distributors supplying vaccines to the NZ market.  IMAC’s site now states that the organisation receives some funding from “private industry” for “special projects”.
This press release has been produced as a public information service by the editors of The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine.  Please email for more information or to request an interview.

April 26, 2011 - Posted by | Human rights, Internationally significant information

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