Call for compulsory vaccination by prominent GP “alarming”
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.”