Press release

April 27, 2015

“Science, not bureaucracy, should be at the heart of NZ vaccination policy”



If NZ wants to continue to improve public confidence in vaccination and increase vaccination rates, “The Ministry of Health needs to focus on using science to make vaccination safer.” That’s the message from Katherine Smith, spokeswoman for No Forced Vaccines, an organisation that opposes coerced or forced vaccinations.


“The government has done a good job of promoting vaccination to parents and vaccination rates are consequently at an all-time high,” Mrs Smith said.


However, in order to sustain high vaccination rates, public confidence in vaccination needs to be maintained, she warned.


“A key reason why many adults, especially health professionals, decide against vaccination for themselves or their children is the risk that a vaccine could cause serious side effects,” Katherine Smith said. Noting the recent disclosure by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) scientist Dr. William Thompson, that the CDC had suppressed data that showed an increased risk of autism for African-American boys who received the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine prior to the age of three, she said that, “This revelation has understandably reduced public confidence in agencies that promote vaccination – even those that nothing to do with the MMR-autism cover-up detailed by Dr. Thompson.” [1]


Here in NZ, Mrs Smith continued, “One way to improve public confidence in vaccination would be to screen people prior to vaccination – so that those who are at a higher risk of suffering an adverse reaction from a particular vaccine can be identified prior to vaccination.”


For example, Mrs Smith said, “Merck, the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine used in NZ (MMRII) disclose a risk of arthritis, especially for women, who receive this vaccine.” According to Merck about 12-26 % of women who are vaccinated experience joint symptoms. For most, this is temporary but some vaccine recipients develop chronic arthritis. [2]


The risk of arthritis after rubella-containing vaccines is not entirely random, Smith continues, explaining that “genetic differences in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system mean that some women who receive rubella-containing vaccines have a higher risk of developing arthritis than others.” [3]


Screening of adolescent girls or women who were not already immune to rubella to make sure that they did not have one of the types of HLA system associated with increased risk of arthritis “would be one way to make vaccination safer,” Smith stated.


Another measure that the Ministry of Health could take “would be to make it compulsory for doctors to report adverse effects from vaccination to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring [CARM]”, Smith added. She also said that another useful initiative would be for “new fields to be established in the National Immunisation Register (NIR) where doctors could record side effects and new health problems following vaccination.” Mrs Smith continued. “Such information would be valuable to doctors and nurses as this would make it quick and easy to review “any adverse reaction a child may previously have experienced”.


Making it mandatory for adverse reactions and any vaccine-linked health diagnoses (such as autism) to be recorded in the National Immunisation Register would also mean that “if NZ has an equivalent group to the young African-American boys who are at higher risk of developing MMR vaccine-induced autism (or any other significant adverse health or developmental outcome following any vaccination) this group could be identified by using this strategy.”


Smith added that identification of any groups at risk of an adverse outcome after vaccination “would allow research into factors that may increase the risk for adverse reactions and thereafter develop strategies to reduce these risks.”


There was a danger that if NZ’s vaccination policy continued to focus on meeting bureaucratic targets rather than ensuring that the best available science is utilised in order to reduce the risk of adverse reactions, “that people will suffer needlessly from preventable vaccine-induced illness or disability,” Smith said.


“Any country that promotes vaccination has an obligation to institute policies that make vaccination as safe as possible for people who want to be vaccinated, while respecting the rights of people who do not want to be vaccinated,” Smith concluded.


(Some background details and subsequent developments are at this link