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Children's Health Jeopardised By Vaccine Stories

16 June 2005

Children's Health Jeopardised By Vaccine Stories

Giving such prominence to the likes of Ron Law and Barbara Sumner Burstyn's criticism of the meningococcal B vaccine is putting the health of our children at risk, says NZORD, the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders.

"These people are not experts on the topic, they often have personal or philosophical axes to grind, and they have spread a lot of inaccurate and alarmist comment that endangers children's lives if vaccination is not carried out," says John Forman, Executive Director of NZORD.

"Giving such prominence to their prejudices is the equivalent of giving high and continued prominence to the views of committed Marxists on the Stock Exchange, the animal rights group on medical research, or the Wizard of Christchurch on census matters. Law and Sumner Burstyn are on the fringe and act obsessively about this topic. They should not be so consistently and widely reported by the media."

"Anecdote and rumour can be powerful and destructive forces in public health issues. Only recently, similar scare mongering halted polio vaccination in northern Nigeria, with a disastrous polio outbreak resulting, and spreading as far as Indonesia. Throughout history anecdote and rumour have probably been a more powerful force than evidence and reason, and journalists should know enough about that to be more critical of such conspiratorial agendas.

"The present campaign against the MeNZB vaccination has caught politicians naively in its web, with at least one Green MP voicing ill-informed doubts about the vaccine. People in such positions of responsibility have a duty to exercise more caution in presenting such sensitive topics to the public, because the potential for alarm and harm is very great," said Mr Forman.


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