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MeNZB Debate: Unethical antiscience scaremongering

The Meningococcal B Debate

Unethical anti-science scaremongering

A media statement issued this week by Ron Law and Barbara Sumner Burstyn claims that results of international trials on meningococcal B vaccines shows an increase in meningococcal risk in pre-schoolers.

(See… Increased Vaccine Risk in Pre-Schoolers - Explain )

This is a total misinterpretation of the international trials and the meaning of ‘confidence intervals’. There is absolutely no scientific validity in this press statement.

The studies referred to (discussed in Sexton K et al, NZ Med Journal, 20 Aug 2004) used a meningococcal vaccine two dose regime and showed that two doses were not effective with pre-schoolers. The importance of these references is to recognise that children, particularly younger children, need three doses; two doses will not be enough to offer protection.

The studies are presented with statistics using confidence intervals. A confidence interval is the range in which you expect a true result to lie within. A confidence interval that crosses zero is an indication of lack of efficacy, not an increased risk of disease.

This is another example of anti-science rhetoric from these misguided people. These authors have no scientific credibility and once again they have shown an inability to understand or read the basic statistics used to explain vaccine clinical trials. This is both highly unethical and unfair scaremongering for NZ parents and our children.

Dr Nikki Turner

Immunisation Advisory Centre

University of Auckland


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