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.