Category Archives: NZ Government Vaccination Policy

Proposal to Ban Unvaccinated Children from Childcare “Assault on Parents’ and Children’s Rights”

Proposal to Ban Unvaccinated Children from Childcare “Assault on Parents’ and Children’s Rights”

No Forced Vaccines, Press release March 14, 2017

 

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s support for banning unvaccinated children from childcare centres and preschools “shows a worrying lack of knowledge about the risks of vaccines and a lack of respects for the parents’ and children’s rights”, according to Katherine Smith, spokeswoman for No Forced Vaccines, a New Zealand based organisation that opposes forced or coerced vaccination.

“Parents have the right to choose whether or not to vaccinate their children,” Smith says, adding that Australia’s current childhood vaccination rate (95%) shows that most parents support vaccination.

Those parents who choose not to vaccinate, she says, are usually well educated middle class parents who have made this decision after carefully weighing up the risks and benefits of the procedure.

“Parents make vaccination decisions based on the best interests of their children,” Smith says, adding that vaccines were “well documented to cause a variety of side effects ranging from mild adverse effects to fatal adverse reactions” and while these risks were acceptable to some parents, others parents’ perception was that their children’s health was better served by avoiding the risks of vaccination.

“For a government to use any sort of coercive tactics to try to increase vaccination rates is not acceptable in a democracy where people have the right to make a free and informed decision about medical treatment.”

Australian parents who had made an informed decision not to vaccinate their children would no doubt be “extremely concerned about their Prime Minister’s proposal that their healthy children should be banned from childcare or preschool and the potential impact on their children’s education and family finances if such a discriminatory ban were to become a reality,” Smith added.

Smith said that she was “relieved” that the current NZ government, while a strong supporter of vaccination, did not consider denying unvaccinated children the opportunity to attend a childcare centre or preschool to be an appropriate way to increase vaccination rates.

She was concerned that a quote from Andrew Little suggested that he thought that the idea of banning unvaccinated children from childcare centres or preschools was worth considering.

“I hope that Mr. Little will reconsider this position once he gives the matter some thought. New Zealand parents deserve respect for the job that they are doing raising the next generation of New Zealanders and it is not the government’s place to interfere with the healthcare decisions that parents make in the best interests of their healthy babies and children by using coercive tactics to increase vaccination rates.

“I hope that Mr. Little will educate himself about New Zealand’s already very high vaccination rates, and how these have been achieved, as well as the reasons why some parents choose not to vaccinate their children” she added.

“I hope Mr. Little will attend the New Zealand premiere of the film Vaxxed:  From Cover-up to Catastrophe that details how evidence of a vaccine-autism link was covered up by scientists from the US Centers for Disease Control.  This will help him to understand why some parents prefer not to vaccinate their children – or to avoid the use of some vaccines that they consider to pose unacceptable risks to their children’s health”, Smith concluded.

 

ENDS

 

NB:  Information about the premiere of Vaxxed:  From Cover-up to Catastrophe (in English, Tongan, Samoan and Chinese) may be found by clicking HERE.

A NZ media report with comments by Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman and Andrew Little (leader of the Labour party) may be accessed by clicking HERE.

No Forced Vaccines Statement to TV 3 on Measles Cases May 24. 2016

Introduction:

On May 23, 2016, Lachlan Forsyth, a reporter for TV3 news, emailed through the Contact Form on the No Forced Vaccines website asking whether No Forced Vaccines could provide a statement or whether a spokesperson would like to be interviewed for a news item on the recent measles cases.

No Forced Vaccines spokeswoman emailed back indicating her willingness to be interviewed and/or to provide a written statement.

On May 24 Mr. Forsyth asked No Forced Vaccines to provide a written statement in response to a claim made by the Ministry of Health that the recent measles cases “shows the importance of widespread vaccination, and that the virus is currently able to spread due to pockets of the population where vaccination rates are lower.”

You can read the full statement by downloading at the link below:

No Forced Vaccines statement regarding measles cases May 24, 2016

 

Measles cases update and information

Measles, MMR and Legal Information Update

 

Website editor’s note:  The following information bulletin is designed to help families and school staff affected by the recent cases of measles in schools in the Waikato and Horowhenua given the school closures and concern about the measles cases.

It may also be of interest to other people who are living in an area (such as Northland) where there are currently reported measles cases and would like more information about measles and MMR vaccination.

This information primarily is designed to help the following groups of people:

  • People who may have been exposed to measles and are looking for information about measles and measles treatments.
  • People who are considering MMR vaccination and would like information about the vaccine.
  • People who want information about the legal basis for the exclusion of some unvaccinated people from schools while they are considered to be infectious.

Continue reading Measles cases update and information

Act Party leader’s endorsement of Welfare Working group proposal “puts vulnerable children at risk”

No Forced Vaccines

Press Release

April 22, 2015

 

Act Party leader’s endorsement of Welfare Working group proposal “puts vulnerable children at risk”

 

Act Party leader David Seymour’s support for the Welfare Working Group’s proposal to link children’s vaccination to parental benefits is misguided because it risks harming vulnerable children.

 

That’s the warning from Katherine Smith, spokeswoman for No Forced Vaccines, a group that opposes coerced or forced vaccination.

 

In 2012, the Welfare Working Group recommended “that beneficiaries be required to ensure that their children complete the 12 Well Child/Tamariki Ora health checks including completion of the immunisation schedule, (unless they make an informed choice not to.)”

 

“At the time of the Welfare Working Group’s pronouncement, No Forced Vaccines pointed out that any policy that infringed on parents’ rights to make healthcare decisions for their minor children was ‘an insult’ to parents who were receiving a benefit,” Mrs Smith continued.

 

“Moreover, any policy that forces parents to ‘choose’ between their child having all vaccines or none, puts children’s health at risk,” she added.

 

The greatest risk, of an “all or nothing” stance regarding vaccinations, Mrs Smith explained, would be for children who had begun to have progressively more serious adverse reactions to each vaccine that they received.

 

“Under normal circumstances, if a child were having increasingly severe side effects after each injection, many parents would decide against further vaccinations for that child,” Mrs Smith said, noting that in many case histories of vaccine-injured children, “a pattern of worsening reactions to each vaccine is evident prior to a child suffering a severe reaction from which they may never fully recover.”

 

The danger of using any sort of financial penalty to try to increase vaccination rates “is that financially stressed parents whose child has already had adverse reactions might feel they have no choice but to agree to that child having another vaccine – one that might lead to tragic consequences such as disability or even death,” she continued.

 

Mrs Smith added that it was “fortunate for vulnerable families” that in 2012 the NZ government decided against linking children’s vaccinations to parental benefits.

 

Prime Minister John Key recently acknowledged that vaccination could cause death in some cases, Mrs Smith stated.

 

Smith concluded: “It’s a shame that David Seymour doesn’t seem to realise that vaccination entails real risks and seems to think the using financial blackmail is an acceptable way of increasing vaccination rates.”

 

ENDS

 

Note to media: Katherine Smith may be contacted for interviews via www.noforcedvaccines.org/contact/

Call for compulsory vaccination by prominent GP “alarming”

Call for compulsory vaccination by prominent GP “alarming”

PRESS RELEASE

No Forced Vaccines,

April 19, 2015

 

The statement by GP Dr. Lance O’Sullivan who won the “New Zealander of the Year Award” in 2014 that parents should be “compelled” to have their children vaccinated is “frankly alarming”, according to Katherine Smith, spokeswoman for No Forced Vaccines.

 

“I have no doubts that Dr. O’Sullivan is a dedicated doctor who cares about his patients and the community, and his recognition is well deserved given the initiatives he has taken to improve the health of people in Kaitaia, such as the Kainga Ora healthy housing initiative,” Mrs Smith says.

 

“However, his misguided advocacy of compulsion with regard to vaccination is frankly alarming, given that he is a doctor, and should therefore understand that medical ethics demand that except in extreme circumstances (such as an unconscious patient who needs emergency treatment to save his or her life), patients must be able to make a free and informed decision about their medical care.”

 

In practice, Mrs Smith explains, given that vaccination is a medical procedure that has serious risks, as well as potential benefits, health professionals who offer vaccination to their patients need to provide information about the benefits and risks of the vaccine. This allows people to make an informed decision about whether to be vaccinated.

 

In the case of vaccinations for children, their parents need to have this information to make a decision on behalf of their child, she says.

 

“For a doctor to advocate for vaccination to be compulsory, or to favour the use of financial penalties to try to coerce parents into vaccination their children shows a worrying disregard for basic medical ethics.” Mrs Smith continues.  “Dr O’Sullivan’s statement that parents should be ‘compelled’ to have their children vaccinated suggests he has very little regard for the basic human right of people to make their own decisions about medical treatment for themselves and their minor children.

Noting that Prime Minister John Key had ruled out linking children’s vaccinations to benefits, Mrs Smith adds that it is reassuring that the government recognises that trying to coerce parents into vaccinating their children would be an infringement of the rights of both parents and children.

 

“Most Kiwi parents support vaccination, as evidenced by the fact that 94% of children here are now vaccinated – a record for NZ,” she adds. “Any type of compulsion with regard to vaccination is not only unethical but unnecessary.”

ENDS

 

Prime Minister John Key to be congratulated for support for parental and human rights

Prime Minister John Key deserves the gratitude of every thinking New Zealander for his sensible decision not to follow the example of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott regarding linking children’s vaccinations to childcare subsidies or welfare payments.

“It’s refreshing when a public figure who supports vaccination is also honest about the fact that for some people, vaccination can have unintended adverse consequences,” comments Katherine Smith, spokeswoman for No Forced Vaccines. “While most children and adults who are vaccinated experience only minor or temporary side effects, in a few cases adverse reactions to vaccines can be life-threatening, such as the severe reaction that left Australian child Saba Button profoundly disabled and in need of 24 hour care for the rest of her life, or even fatal, such as the case of Ashley Jade Epapara who died after a routine influenza vaccination.”

Explaining that vaccination is unusual among medical interventions in that it is a procedure designed for healthy people with the aim of preventing illness rather than treating someone who is already sick, Katherine Smith continues:

“It is a basic human right to be able to make a free and informed choice about medical treatments – and in the case of children, parents need to be able to make this decision on their children’s behalf, since if anything does go wrong it is parents and children who have to live with the consequences.”

Noting that New Zealand’s current vaccination rate is at a “record high 94%”, Mrs Smith adds, that “It’s clear that most New Zealand parents support vaccination without any compulsion and the current initiatives that are being taken by the government to increase vaccination rates and make it easier for parents who want their children to be vaccinated to be able to access this service have obviously been very successful.”

 

Immunisation decision “Important victory for human rights”

Press release from No Forced Vaccines

October 26, 2012

The announcement that parents who are on benefits will not be required to vaccinate their children is an “important victory for human rights” says Katherine Smith, spokeswoman for No Forced Vaccines, a group that opposes coerced or forced vaccination.

In the recently released “Welfare Reform Paper 3:  Social Obligations for Parents” the Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennet stated that that she had “considered whether to establish an obligation in relation to child immunisation, but decided against this”. The minister wrote that decisions about vaccination “should remain with parents because immunisation is a medical procedure” and that “removing the right to refuse medical treatment would be an unjustifiable breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act”.

The NZ Bill of Rights states that “everyone has the right to refuse to undergo any medical treatment”.

Responding to Paula Bennet on this issue, Katherine Smith added:

“Making a free and informed decision about any medical treatment, including vaccination is a basic human right.” Smith said.  “No Forced Vaccines is very pleased that the government has recognised that any move to make vaccination compulsory for children in benefit-dependent families would be incompatible with the NZ Bill of Rights.”

The challenge now for No Forced Vaccines will be to ensure that “the vaccination industry does not manipulate the NZ government into introducing any other coercive vaccination policies.” Smith added.

NZ’s vaccination rate for two years olds currently stands at a record high 93%.

Vaccination Policy Timeline

Introduction

The NZ government funds a national vaccination programme so that selected vaccines (those on the “National Immunisation Schedule”) are free for babies and young children and some other groups who are at higher risk of either developing or experiencing complications from some illnesses.

Vaccination in NZ is voluntary: the Ministry of Health promotes vaccination vigorously but parents are still free to choose not to vaccinate, and those who want to vaccinate may choose to delay vaccinations or select some, but not others from those on the national schedule.

This being said, NZ has a strong pro-vaccine lobby, and key members of this lobby have been working towards eroding parents’ rights to make free and informed decisions about which vaccinations their children should (or should not) have.  The document below  gives a timeline of key events in the push towards a coercive vaccination policy.

Timeline

1995:

The Health (Immunisation) Regulations 1995 requires education services to ask parents or caregivers to provide an immunisation certificate for children fifteen months or over or born after January 1995.  http://www.lead.ece.govt.nz/ManagementInformation/EstablishingAnECEService/Legislation.aspx#Health

 

2005

National Party MP, Dr Paul Hutchison writes in the NZ Herald that “Too many NZ children miss immunisation”, praises Dr Nikki Turner’s leadership at the Immunisation Advisory Centre (see below) writes that that “I advocate that the Government makes it compulsory for all preschools and schools to require children to present a certificate that either confirms the child has been immunised or confirms the parent has made a firm conscientious objection.”  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3577255

2010 

The NZ parliamentary health select committee, under the leadership of Dr Paul Hutchison calls an Inquiry into “how to improve immunisation completion rates”.  Submissions close on February 12, 2010.

February 22, 2011 

The Welfare Working Group produces a report that states that includes the statement “that beneficiaries be required to ensure that their children complete the 12 Well Child/Tamariki Ora health checks including completion of the immunisation schedule, (unless they make an informed choice not to.)”

March 24, 2011

The Report of the Health Select Committee on “how to improve immunisation completion rates” is published on the parliamentary website:

http://www.parliament.nz/resource/0000157667

The report includes a number of coercive recommendations, including that the government consider linking children’s vaccinations to “existing parental benefits” and that parents have to supply vaccination information when enrolling children in preschools or schools. It also endorses the “Six star plan” presented to the committee by Dr Nikki Turner of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) and indeed appends it to the end of the main Report. IMAC has in the past acknowledged major suppliers of vaccines to the NZ market as sponsors and its current funding page acknowledges support from “private industry”  http://www.immune.org.nz/funding  but the Report does not appear to take this potential conflict of interest into account.

June 13, 2011

No Forced Vaccines coordinator Katherine Smith makes a formal complaint to the Speaker of the NZ House of Parliament regarding the factual inaccuracies in the Report (including omission of significant adverse effects from tables listing vaccine side effects) to the Speaker of the House.  He declines to investigate, stating that the “conduct of a select committee is a matter for the committee to investigate.”  (The text of the complaint and Dr Lockwood Smith’s response may be read at http://www.noforcedvaccines.org/complaints/complaint-to-the-speaker-of-nz-parliament-concerning-the-health-select-committee-report/ )

June 22, 2011

The government (Ministry of Health) publishes its response to the Report of the Health Select Committee on the Ministry of Health website.  Most of the recommendations are accepted; the document states that the Ministry of Health will report back about Dr Nikki Turner’s “Six star plan” on March 30, 2012.  (The document was originally accessible through this link on the Ministry of Health’s website: http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/indexmh/immunisation   The link is no longer active as the Ministry of Health has recently revamped its website.)

April 24, 2012

TV3 news reports that children under the age of 16 years have been vaccinated without parental consent.
http://www.3news.co.nz/Social-media-to-help-get-teens-immunised/tabid/423/articleID/251711/Default.aspx

March 30, 2012

“Health Report 20120196” (obtained by Katherine Smith under the Official Information Act) shows that the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development are working towards instituting coercive vaccination policies – and that the government plans to link children’s vaccinations to parents’ welfare benefits in the second Welfare Reform Bill due to go through parliament in the second half of 2012.  (This document will be emailed on request – please send an email via the Contact form of this site.)

October 2012

In the “Welfare Reform Paper 3:  Social Obligations for Parents” the Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennet stated that that she had “considered whether to establish an obligation in relation to child immunisation, but decided against this”. The minister wrote that decisions about vaccination “should remain with parents because immunisation is a medical procedure” and that “removing the right to refuse medical treatment would be an unjustifiable breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act”.

 

November 2013

The government Health Select Committee (still chaired by Dr. Paul Hutchison) publishes its report on its “Inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse with a focus from preconception until three years of age”.

The “Immunisation” section of the Report recommends that the government “continue to implement the recommendations from the Health Committee’s 2011 inquiry into how to improve completion rates of childhood immunisation”.  (The “2011 inquiry into how to improve completion rates of childhood immunisation” (also chaired by Dr. Paul Hutchison) included a number of coercive recommendations regarding vaccination, as detailed at this link: http://www.noforcedvaccines.org/about/ )

 

April 2015

Prime Minister John Key reiterates that NZ will not link children’s vaccinations to welfare payments.  See:

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11432087

No Forced Vaccines press release on this issue may be read at this link: http://www.noforcedvaccines.org/news/prime-minister-john-key-to-be-congratulated-for-support-for-parental-and-human-rights/

 

April 2015

Dr. Lance O’Sullivan (who won the New Zealander of the Year Award in 2014 and was praised by IMAC as a having a “passion for improving healthcare”) calls for parents in NZ to be “compelled” to vaccinate their children and indicates that he supports children’s vaccinations being linked to welfare payments and the tax system.  (See: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11432992 )

No Forced Vaccines put out a press release pointing out that using financial blackmail to coerce parents into vaccinating their children was incompatible with the human right of making a free and informed decision about medical treatment. The press release was ignored by all media with the exception of Maori Television’s “Te Kāea”  (nightly news) programme.

Health Select Committee Report (2011)

No Forced Vaccines was formed in response to the Report of the Health [Select] Committee Inquiry into How to Improve Completion Rates of Childhood Immunisation. The full report may be downloaded from the NZ parliament website at the following link:

http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/BADCF722-D377-4451-8602-1E00938BFC74/188894/DBSCH_SCR_5060_Inquiryintohowtoimprovecompletionra.pdf

The Report was factually inaccurate and also contained a number of coercive recommendations.  (No Forced Vaccines spokeswoman Katherine Smith made a complaint to the Speaker of the NZ Parliament about the report but was told the Speaker could not investigate a complaint about  a Report produced by a Parliamentary Select Committee. (See http://www.noforcedvaccines.org/complaints/complaint-to-the-speaker-of-nz-parliament-concerning-the-health-select-committee-report/  for details.)

The recommendations in the Report of the Health Select Committee that are of concern are detailed below:

Unfortunately  it appears that the government is still seriously considering some of these recommendations.

Recommendations concerning early childhood education and school enrolments

Among the many recommendations made in the Report is the following: We recommend to the Government that it strengthen the requirements on parents to present immunisation information when their children enrol at early childhood centres or schools. The required immunisation information should consist of either a certificate demonstrating that the child has received all the appropriate vaccinations, or a written statement that the parents have declined to immunise their child. We consider this should be implemented within one year.” [Page 20]

This recommendation appears to be based on the “Six star plan” presented to the Health Select Committee by Dr Nikki Turner who works for the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC). (Until 2010, IMAC acknowledged funding from the NZ Ministry of Health and five pharmaceutical companies supplying vaccines to the NZ market. The relevant page was removed from the site after it was publicised. The site now has a Funding page that now acknowledges the Ministry of Health as IMAC’s major funder and that the organisation also receives  financial support from “private industry”.)

Parts of Dr Turner’s “Six star plan” appear to be modeled on the system currently used in Australia, which is described on Page 17 of the Report of the Health [Select] Committee. An excerpt from Dr Turner’s “Six star plan” which is appended to the Report of the Health [Select] Committee is as follows:

“When a parent enrols a child, they either present a certificate demonstrating a fully completed immunisation series appropriate to the age, or a completed declination form. Either needs to be delivered and recorded by the ECEC [Early Childhood Education Centre]. If a child is enrolled when they are under two years of age, on their second birthday the ECEC will be obliged to contact the parents and view, and record that they have viewed, the completed certificate or declination form.

Possible restriction of access to 20 Hours Free Early Childhood Education

“The current free entitlement to 20 hours early childhood education will continue to be offered to all parents and caregivers; however eligibility will include the obligation from the ECEC to obtain from the parents a certificate of completion of immunisation events or a current declination form.”

The wording of the Recommendation 18 in the Report of the Health [Select] Committee that “The required immunisation information should consist of either a certificate demonstrating that the child has received all the appropriate vaccinations, or a written statement that the parents have declined to immunise their child” [emphasis added] also suggests that if this recommendation is accepted by the government, parents will be coerced into making an all or nothing choice when it comes to vaccination.

Currently, while early childhood services and schools have to request that parents show their child’s Immunisation Certificate, (if the child has one) at the time of enrollment, parents are able to choose whether they would like their child/ren to have all, some or none of the vaccinations recommended by the Ministry of Health, as they think appropriate for their child/ren – and they can also choose the age at which their child/ren receive any vaccine(s). (Many parents prefer to delay their baby’s initial vaccination appointment until s/he is older than the age of six weeks recommended by the Ministry of Health.)

Any policy which requires parents to either present a certificate which states that their child/ren has had “all the appropriate vaccinations” (or “a written statement that the parents have declined to immunise their child” ) erodes current parental rights to make the decisions about their child/ren’s health care and unlawfully restricts a child’s access to education at both preschool and school level.

We find the proposal that children and young people be excluded from educational opportunities on the basis of their vaccination status to be unacceptable.

Possible Linking of Children’s Vaccinations to Existing Parental Benefits

We are also concerned that the report suggests “examining the possibility of linking existing parental benefits to immunisation.”

At a time when many families are facing unprecedented financial stress due to the economic downturn and the Canterbury earthquake, any proposal that might financially penalise families who do not follow the vaccination schedule recommended by the Ministry of Health is morally unacceptable.

Update:

In May 2012, a document obtained under the Official Information Act confirmed that the government was working to institute some of the coercive recommendations from the Report of the Health Select Committee.  See the Press release page of this site for details.

Government Reponse to Health Select Committee Report

Initial Government Response

NB: The following article was written in June 2011.  For updated information, please see the Breaking News page at this link http://www.noforcedvaccines.org/breaking-news/

No Forced Vaccines was formed in response to the Report of the Health [Select] Committee Inquiry into How to Improve Completion Rates of Childhood Immunisation. The full report may be downloaded from the NZ parliament website at the following link:

http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/BADCF722-D377-4451-8602-1E00938BFC74/188894/DBSCH_SCR_5060_Inquiryintohowtoimprovecompletionra.pdf

On June 22, the government published its formal response to the Report made by the Health Select Committee following its Inquiry into how to increase vaccination rates.

The response was able to be accessed by visiting the following link and then downloading the response from the blue  box in the right hand side of the page until the Ministry of Health revamped its website.  I will try to locate the new link when I can.http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/indexmh/immunisation

The response of the government raises serious concerns as while the government does state that vaccination should be a choice, the official response from the government  has NOT rejected the coercive recommendations in the Report of the Health Select Committee.

No Forced Vaccines has alerted NZ media to this problem by issuing a press release that summarises the key concerns about the government’s response.  The press release may be read on the Press Releases page of www.noforcedvaccines.org at the following link  http://www.noforcedvaccines.org/press-releases/

No Forced Vaccines members should already have received an email  about the government response.  If you are not already a member but would like to support this campaign to maintain freedom of choice regarding vaccinations, please email the site coordinator using the form on the Contact page and your details will be added to the email list.