Tairawhiti DHB Joins Meningococcal Mythology
Tairawhiti District Health Joins Meningococcal Mythology
Independent Risk & Policy Analyst
''It's is really disappointing to see heath officials begin the year by using blatantly false information to generate fear to encourage uptake of the experimental MeNZB(tm) vaccine,'' says Independent Risk & Policy Analyst Ron Law
For example, Tairawhiti District Health stated in a press release that, "In 2003, 171 Maori contracted Meningococcal disease throughout New Zealand. Many more suffered a permanent disability such as loss of limbs, brain damage, skin damage, or behavioural or learning difficulties." ( http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/GE0501/S00015.htm)
"This is a grossly irrational and absurd statement," says Ron Law. "How on earth can more people suffer 'permanent disability such as loss of limbs, brain damage, skin damage, or behavioural or learning difficulties,' than actually contracted the disease?"
Unfortunately, District Health Boards appear to be blindly regurgitating Ministry of Health meningococcal mythology. It's time Health Boards were held accountable for the accuracy of their fear-mongering.
How many people contracted meningococcal disease in New Zealand is irrelevant for a vaccination campaign in Tairawhiti District for several reasons.
Firstly, not all of the meningococcal cases are targeted by the vaccine. Secondly, not all age groups are targeted to be vaccinated. Thirdly, only people who reside in the Tairawhiti District are being targeted by the vaccination campaign, so what happens in the rest of New Zealand is irrelevant at a local level.
According to Ministry of Health figures obtained under the Official Information Act in the Tairawhiti District there was a single (one) case of meningococcal disease reported that was caused by the strain of meningococcal bacteria targeted by the MeNZB(tm) vaccine in 2003.
According to official figures obtained under the Official Information Act there have been an average of five cases per year of notified meningococcal disease in the Tairawhiti District attributed to the meningococcal bacteria targeted by the MeNZB(tm) vaccine since 1997.
These are hardly figures that would instill fear in the populace, in which case perhaps it does make sense that officials resort to mythology and hyperbole to motivate the masses.
Tairawhiti District Health Board should be ashamed that it does not base it MeNZB(tm) campaign on scientific fact, but has uncritically relied on the Ministry of Health's false, falsified, fabricated and fraudulent by-lines.