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