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Stop Press!! MoH Seeks MeNZB(tm) Endorsements

Stop Press!! MoH Seek MeNZB Vaccine Endorsements


Ron Law & Barbara Sumner Burstyn
Urgent Press Release

Dear Minister,

A person within the Health system has referred this (follows later in this release) correspondence to us because they are deeply concerned about the unethical and subversive processes and coercion being used by the Ministry of Health to manipulate healthcare professionals and to impose its wishes on the people of New Zealand.

Could the Ministry of Health possibly be proposing to waste more than a hundred thousand dollars of extra tax payer money trying to brain-wash the citizens of New Zealand?

You have publicly stated several times this week that you are opposed to coercion... please note that even healthcare professionals are feeling coerced into supporting the Ministry of Health's position.

Please explain the justification for this gross waste of public resources promoting a vaccine that has no proven efficacy and is targetted towards a disease naturally abating and affecting less than 0.07% of the New Zealand population.

Regards

Ron Law
Barbara Sumner Burstyn

FULL TEXT OF EMAIL FOLLOWS…

*************

Email sent to: (Partial list.. names and addresses removed to maintain privacy)

Ministry Of Education
Medical Association
Royal NZ College Of GPs
IPA Council
Health West
HCA.org.nz
teora.maori.nz
meningitis-trust.org.nz
Plunket
Nurses Organisationl
digitalis.co.nz
Maori Women's Welfare League
Auckland & Canterbury Uni Accademics
kohanga.ac.n
dhbnz.org.nz
esr.cri.nz


Subject: URGENT - Endorsement of Meningococcal B immunisation Programme

Greetings all

You will be well aware of the considerable media coverage of the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme over the last 1-2 weeks. As you know, some of the information has been misleading. We have appreciated the support many of you have provided to help maintain confidence in the programme.

The Ministry is proposing to place an open letter, as attached to the public in the key newspapers this weekend.

The plan is to place this letter in the metropolitian papers, 17 regional papers, the Sunday Star Times and Sunday News, plus about 60 community papers.

Many of you have previously indicated a willingness to endorse the Programme on behalf of your organisation. This is a time when your endorsement would add significant impact to the proposed letter from the Ministry.

· Would you agree to your name / organisation being listed as endorsing the proposed letter in the above papers?

· If so, please email us the official name of your organisation and confirm your agreement to have this included on the bottom of the letter.

· There is a short time frame to get this letter to the press for the weekend papers so your reply is ideally needed by the end of today please.

It would be appreciated if this letter is not distributed wider than is necessary for your approval process until we confirm the letter has gone to press.

We are extremely sorry for this short time frame and realise it may be impossible for some of you to respond in time.

Thankyou again for your ongoing support. Please feel free to contact me with any queries.

Kind regards

Judy

Judy Wood
Senior Advisor Stakeholder Relationships
Meningococcal Vaccine Strategy
Public Health Operations
Public Health Directorate
Ministry of Health
http://www.moh.govt.nz

*************

Open letter to go into newspapers.

Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme

To the people of New Zealand,


The recent media debate about the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme requires the Ministry of Health to correct some of the misinformation that has circulated.

1. The Ministry of Health supports informed consent

It’s your right to be informed. The Ministry ensures that information we provide is based on the best scientific and medical evidence available nationally and internationally.

2. New Zealand has an epidemic

New Zealand has an epidemic of a specific strain of group B meningococcal disease. There is no room for complacency. Disease rates are three times the rate considered an epidemic by the World Health Organization. Since the epidemic began in 1991 meningococcal disease has caused more than 5700 cases, 231 deaths and left many people with permanent damage. The epidemic strain has caused about three in every four of these cases.

For every 100 people who contract meningococcal disease, four people die and up to 20 people are left with some degree of serious disability such as amputations, deafness, brain damage or scarring.

New Zealand doctors, nurses and parents have a high awareness of meningococcal disease but awareness alone is not enough. It can be difficult to diagnose and can develop rapidly leaving its victim severely ill in hours.

3. The vaccine offers protection

The best protection available is the MeNZBTM vaccine. We must also all stay watchful for signs of the disease and seek early treatment when the disease is suspected. This is because no vaccine is 100 percent effective and furthermore, other less common strains of the disease will still circulate.

The vaccine offers individual protection and will not protect those who are not immunised.

4. The vaccine was tested according to international standards.

“The Ministry has responded to the epidemic with wise steps to protect our children and tackle a killer. Each step of the development of this programme has been prudent and timely following the best advice available locally and overseas. Our members look forward to fewer children and young people suffering and less need to break tragic news to families.” - New Zealand Paediatric Society.

New Zealand followed a similar process as the United Kingdom and the United States, in introducing a meningococcal vaccine based on phase I and II trials. Like the United Kingdom and the United States, New Zealand did not go on to do a phase III trial. Phase I and II trials establish if people produce antibodies to protect against disease after they are vaccinated. Most people in the New Zealand trials of the MeNZBTM vaccine produced a good antibody response. There is evidence that these antibodies will protect most people against the disease.

5. The vaccine is safe.

The New Zealand trials found no safety concerns. To date about one million doses have been given in the programme. A separate board set up by the Health Research Council and called the Independent Safety Monitoring Board (ISMB) is the watchdog on the vaccine’s safety. The ISMB has stated it has no concerns regarding the vaccine’s safety after considering the first 950,000 doses administered.

Many children and young people will have a reaction to the vaccine. The most common reactions include sore arms and some redness and swelling around the injection site and skin reactions. A smaller number of people have reported reactions such as fevers, headaches, nausea and vomiting, a general feeling of being unwell or muscle and joint pain. These are all expected reactions that generally mean the vaccine is working and disappears within a few days. While it is not pleasant to have an irritable child - immunisation is about ensuring children are protected to grow up healthy and safe.

6. Vaccine and information availability

The immunisation programme began last July and will end in June 2006. Immunisation involves each child receiving three doses of the MeNZBTM vaccine. Immunisation is free. Planning is underway to consider extending the availability of the vaccine for babies when the current programme finishes next June.

Some people have asked where they can get more information. If you have access to the internet, the official website for the programme is http://www.immunise.moh.govt.nz/. This website has links to other credible sites for more information from other sources.

People can also call the free information line staffed by registered nurses on 0800 20 30 90.

The Ministry has produced leaflets and booklets about the programme so please ask your local doctor or District Health Board for copies.

Yours sincerely

Karen Poutasi

Director-General of Health

Ministry of Health

Letter endorsed by:

…your name here…

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