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Open Letter From Consent Hawkes Bay

30 May 2005

Open Letter From Consent Hawkes Bay To The Minister Of Health, With Copies To The Ministry Of Education And The Health And Disabilities Commissioner.

Dear Ms King,

We are a group of Hawke’s Bay parents who are concerned about the current Meningococcal B vaccine campaign. We are not pro or anti vaccines per se, rather our concern is that the campaign is breaching the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to uphold parents’ rights to make an informed choice about the vaccine.

As you would know, informed consent is described as being free from force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching and other forms of constraint or coercion. It must be made on the basis of adequate information concerning research and all available alternatives, the probable benefits, risks, side effects and failure rates. In New Zealand health professionals have a legal obligation to obtain informed consent before vaccinations, and this obligation is upheld by the Health and Disability Commissioners Act 1994, Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights 1996 and Privacy Act 1991.

In the spirit of the right to make an informed decision about this vaccine, the Ministries of Health and Education (in its role of implementing the vaccination campaign in ours schools) need to:

1. Give us more time to make a decision about whether or not our children should receive the vaccine - at least one week, not 1-2 days.

2. Give us more information on meningococcal disease such as the number of cases of each types or strain of Meningococcal disease, plus the actual chances of catching the epidemic B strain; even the fact that accurate figures on this information are not kept.

3. Give us the information, as required by the Medicines Assessment Advisory Committee, on the lack of efficacy data for this vaccine.

4. Cease using scare tactics on our children, particularly the young primary school children, by subjecting them to scary videos and graphic pictures of dismembered and sick children. Children under the age of 16 are not responsible for making a decision about the vaccine; that is the role of their parents.

5. Parents need to be advised about how to report an adverse reaction to the vaccine, as many doctors are unwilling to do so. Adverse reactions are not “normal”, illness in a previously healthy child who has received the vaccine is not “normal” and all reactions, no matter how minor or expected, should be reported.

6. Follow up anecdotal evidence i.e. stories like “All of the children in my playgroup children got sick after the vaccine but not the unvaccinated ones.”

7. Stop paying doctors on the number of vaccines they give - this puts pressure on them financially to vaccinate and is a conflict of interest.

8. Emphasize to parents how to avoid getting this disease i.e. Stop smoking, breastfeed babies for an extended period, ensure a good diet and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, nurse sick children carefully, use paracetomol containing medications sparingly.

9. Make available a test to see if people already have natural immunity to this disease.

It would be useful to determine exactly whether this so called epidemic is, in effect, already in dramatic decline and whether or not this mass campaign to vaccinate 1.15 million largely healthy children, particularly in the face of declining morbidity and mortality from the disease, is a good use of public money.

There has been a call for a Royal Commission of Enquiry into all aspects of this. We think that a moratorium on the campaign would give the Ministry a chance to review the necessity for this huge drain on the tax dollar, when there are so many other pressing medical needs in this country.

Yours sincerely

Julie Beere Spokesperson Consent Hawke’s Bay


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