The information on this page summarises the concerns of No Forced Vaccines following the 2011 Report of the Health Select Committee following its enquiry into “How to improve immunisation completion rates in NZ”. This information has been archived on the No Forced Vaccines website to help new members who are health professionals understand the concerns of No Forced Vaccines members, many of whom are health professionals.
In 2012, the government announced that it did not plan to link access to school or early childhood education or parental benefits to children’s vaccinations. (See: http://www.noforcedvaccines.org/nz-government-vaccination-policy/immunisation-decision-important-victory-for-human-rights/)
If any of the recommendations relating to health professional that were made in the 2011 Report that are summarised below have been instituted, please let No Forced Vaccines know through the Contact Form.
Many of the recommendations in the Health Select Committee Report following its Inquiry into “How to improve immunisation completion rates in NZ” will affect health professionals if they are adopted by the government.
The Report was published on the parliamentary website on March 24, and may be read in its entirity at this link: .
Recommendations that affect parents
The report makes a number of recommendations, including linking children’s vaccination status to enrollment in early childhood centres and schools as well as for the government to consider linking vaccination status to “existing parental benefits”. It appears that there is an agenda to force parents to choose between an “all or nothing” policy when it comes to vaccination, with parents either obtaining an exemption from vaccination for their child or signing him/her on for ALL the recommended vaccines in order for him/her to enrol in an early childhood education service or school. (These recommendations can be read on Page 6 of the Report).
The proposed vaccination target is 95% of babies and children up to the age of 4 years, with an “age appropriate target” for 11 year olds. (See Page 5 of the report.) Page 33 of the Report also states that access to the 20 Hours Free ECE could be withdrawn from children unless their parents comply with the new vaccination policy.
Plan to increase access to childbirth education and promote vaccination to expectant parents attending childbirth education classes
There is a plan to expand childbirth education services for first time parents, as explained in this paragraph of the report:
“Some submitters argued that immunisation information is crucial during the antenatal, birth, and perinatal periods. We were told by the ministry that DHBs are required to fund pregnancy and parenting education for at least 30 percent of the population of pregnant women in each area. The Primary Maternity Services Notice 2007 contains clauses requiring the provision of ministry information about immunisation to clients during the third trimester of pregnancy, but DHB midwives are not covered by this legislation. The ministry is creating a service specification for the pregnancy and parenting education that is provided or funded by DHBs, to be implemented by 1 July 2011.”[Page 23 HSCC report]
The summary of recommendations on page 7 of the Report contains some recommendation which have specific relevance to LMCs and childbirth educators.
“that the Ministry of Health strengthen the legal and contractual requirements for health professionals involved in maternity care to provide scientifically credible immunisation information, in contexts including antenatal classes (page 25)
“that the Ministry of Health build websites about immunisation with content written by and designed for antenatal educators, lead maternity carers, and well child providers (page 25)
“that it fund free antenatal classes for all first-time parents, and ensure that scientifically credible information about immunisation is provided to them (page 25)”
It appears the the author of the Report (presumably Dr Paul Hutchison) is concerned that parents receipt of “discouraging” information about vaccination during pregnancy could be one of the “factors that prevented immunisation rates from rising”. (Page 19) Dr Hutchison made his preferences regarding vaccination policy crystal clear as early as 2005 when he wrote in the NZ Herald “And I repeat: all preschools and schools make it compulsory for 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
Plan to use contracts with health professionals to infringe on their rights to free speech
The Report of the Health [Select] Committee further states:
“The ministry should also ensure that all contracts for immunisation services oblige the contracted party to promote immunisation, and the evidence behind it. We consider that all health care professionals should be prevented from undermining the national immunisation programme.” [Page 24 HSC report]
From Dr Nikki Turner’s “Six star plan” (which the Health Select Committee has recommended that the government adopt):
“All health care professionals to be under a legal obligation to neither promote nor disseminate immunisation information that is not evidence-based and not supported by the national programme.” [emphasis added – Page 32 HSC report] (As you may already be aware, until recently IMAC, Dr Nikki Turner’s employer, acknowledged on its website financial support from the Ministry of Health as well as five companies involved in manufacturing and/or distributing vaccines to the NZ market; the link was removed in 2010 after it was publicised. The “Funding” page on IMAC’s website now states that it now has a link mostly funded by the Ministry of Health but also acknowledges “private industry” as providing “minimal funding” for “special projects”. See http://www.immune.org.nz/?t=1021 )
The proposed legal prohibition against the dissemination or promotion of “immunisation information” that is “not supported by the national programme clearly has important implications for health professionals.
Many parents are concerned about the possible side effects of vaccination and wish to discuss areas of controversy with their family doctor or practice nurse before making a decision about vaccination in general (or one vaccine in particular.)
Currently some Ministry of Health produced materials (which presumably, the Ministry of Health considers to be “evidence based”) contain statements that, frankly, are deceptive when it comes to dealing with possible risks pertaining to some vaccines. For example, currently (April 5, 2011) the Ministry of Health website makes the following statement regarding hepatitis B vaccines:
“Severe risks associated with Hep B or Hib-Hep B vaccines
“Anaphylaxis occurs extremely rarely.
“No links have been reported between the vaccine and multiple sclerosis (a disease of the nervous system), diabetes, or encephalitis.”
However a five minute search on the Net brings up references to the medical literature that demonstrate evidence of a link between MS and hepatitis vaccination ( http://www.primalhealthresearch.com/study/id/0741/ ) although it appeared to be confined to one brand of Hepatitis B vaccine. There is also evidence of link between hepatitis B vaccination and diabetes ( http://www.vaccines.net/1TOPEDJ.pdf ) and leukoencephalitis has been reported following hepatitis B vaccination http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/33/10/1772.full. (Another study of eight patients who developed neurological problems following hepatitis B vaccination reported on how the MRIs initially suggested encephalitis but ongoing inflammation suggested MS as an appropriate diagnosis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10430433 )
Clearly the statement on the Ministry of Health’s website that there are “No links” between Hepatitis B vaccines and these conditions is incorrect. Nevertheless, this is the Ministry of Health’s official position on this matter.
Consider a hypothetical situation in which a parent were to raise concerns, about, for example, Hepatitis B vaccination and a GP (or practice nurse) were to discuss the evidence above, putting it into the context that these potential adverse effects are rare, given that most children are vaccinated and few develop diabetes, MS or encephalitis … would this doctor or nurse be considered to be guilty of “undermining the national immunisation programme”? Would the medical practice’s contract with the Ministry of Health be put at risk?
On the other hand, if in this same hypothetical situation, the GP or practice nurse did not disclose known links between a vaccine and particular condition after an enquiry from a parent – and the child subsequently developed a condition that has been linked to the vaccine, the health professional could face a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner from the parent on the basis that s/he withheld information necessary to make an informed decision about the vaccination. This would obviously cause the health professional concerned and his/her employer considerable stress and result in adverse publicity that could impact on the health professional’s career and business where s/he works.
Let us consider another example, one in which a health professional who has strong religious beliefs concerning abortion – for example a Catholic, Muslim or Buddhist health professional – chose to disclose to parents (who were members of the same faith) in the context of a consultation relating to their child/ren’s health – that the rubella viruses in the MMR vaccine are cultured on a human diploid cell line derived from aborted foetal tissue. Would this violate their “legal obligation to neither promote nor disseminate information” that is “not supported by the national programme”?
New contract provisions could impact on doctor-patient relationships
Doctors and nurses in general practice (particularly those that serve stable communities) know that the respectful relationships that they develop with the patients help to facilitate the delivery of both preventative health care as well as the effective management of acute and chronic health problems.
One of the recommendations in Dr Turner’s “Six star plan” – which the Report recommends that the government adopt, states:
- Health professionals involved in immunisation service delivery to be committed to offering timely immunisation to all children for best protection (i.e. keeping to the recommended schedule time frames).
This recommendation obviously raises problems for those medical professionals in cases in which parents who support vaccination but would prefer to wait until a baby is older than six weeks before beginning to vaccinate him/her. Health professionals could face considerable conflict between respecting parents’ decisions and maintaining a good relationship with the family and meeting contractural requirements if the medical practice’s vaccination delivery programme contract specifies rigid timelines for vaccination services.
Coerced vaccination of children could lead to coerced vaccination of adults
Many of the recommendations in the Report appear to be modeled on the vaccination system currently in use in Australia which in 1997 adopted a similar policy to Dr Nikki Turner’s “Six star plan” regarding vaccination requirements for school entry and eligibility for childcare subsidies as part of the “Seven Point Plan”. (This Seven Point Plan is discussed on Page 16 of the Health Select Committee’s Report.)
Ten years after this policy was introduced the human rights of health professionals to choose their own healthcare without coercion was under assault in New South Wales with a directive in 2007 stating that existing employees in the public health system had to submit to disease screening and vaccination procedures or (with very few exceptions) be barred from working in “high risk” areas of the NSW public health system. It also appears that health professionals applying for jobs (and health care students applying for practicum placements) in the NSW public health system must agree to undergo screening and vaccination procedures in order to gain employment or practicum placements. The relevant document can be downloaded from the following link:
Thank you for taking the time to read this summary. If you are concerned about the issues raised on this page, please read the full report of the Health Select Committee as there may be other recommendations in the Report that are of personal or professional significance. If you would like to help with the campaign against the infringements on human rights represented by the recommendations in the Report, please check out the “How you can help” suggestions and/or contact the No Forced Vaccines coordinator through the Contact Form. Thank you.