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.”