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A Response to “No Forced Vaccines”

Media Release: A Response to “No Forced Vaccines”

Meningococcal disease is serious and can be rapidly life-threatening. We currently have an outbreak of meningococcal Group C disease in Northland, and three people have died from the disease since mid-July. Young children and teenagers are at highest risk.

The vaccine being offered in the Meningococcal C programme in Northland is very effective and safe. It has been used widely since 1999 in the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. Over 57 million doses of the vaccine used now in Northland (Meningitec®) have been administered worldwide.

In England, the introduction of the meningococcal C vaccine in 1999 led to a 95% reduction in cases in under 20 year olds by 2003. Likewise in Australia, Canada and other countries where the vaccine is used, rates of meningococcal C disease have reduced dramatically since introduction of the vaccine (references available).

Eating well, not smoking and drinking in moderation are all good for your health. Living in good socio-economic circumstances and un-crowded, good quality housing is unfortunately not a choice for many children and young people in Northland. There is no good evidence that additional vitamins or iron protect you from meningococcal disease.

In addition, you need to have active antibodies circulating in your bloodstream that are specific to Group C, to protect you from meningococcal C disease. These can only be acquired through placental transfer (to young infants, if their mother has the antibodies herself and last only weeks to months), from carriage or the disease itself, or from vaccination. Given the seriousness of the disease, vaccination is the safest and most effective way to do this.

There is no evidence for the effectiveness of “homeoprophylaxis” in protecting against meningococcal disease. In fact, the British Faculty of Homeopathy position statement supports immunisation: “Where there is no medical contraindication, immunisation should be carried out in the normal way using the conventional tested and approved vaccines.” [See references: http://www.facultyofhomeopathy.org/research/systematic_reviews/index.html and http://www.facultyofhomeopathy.org/media/position_statements/immunisation.html]

Contrary to the spurious claims made by Ms Smith, who is a well known anti-immunisation lobbyist, the number and types of serious adverse events reported after Meningitec® administration are similar in frequency and type to those who have NOT received vaccination. This is because in careful monitoring of post-vaccination events, illnesses and diseases that would have happened regardless of vaccination are also reported. However there is no evidence these are CAUSED by the vaccine. A large surveillance program conducted by the UK Health Protection Agency (Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre and Meningococcal Reference Unit) in England analysed effectiveness and safety in toddlers and 15-17 year olds, following the phased introduction of Meningitec® and other Group C meningococcal conjugate vaccines into the UK.

The vaccine contains 0.125 mg of aluminium which is a natural element present in foods and in the environment. Average daily exposure is 10-15mg. We commonly ingest at least 2-3mg per day in food, including breast milk. The aluminium acts an "adjuvant" to increase the effectiveness of the body's response to vaccine.

There is no preservative in the Meningitec® vaccine. It is made of a sugar (polysaccharide) from the meningococcal C bacteria, linked to a protein. It is not a live vaccine, and cannot cause the disease.

Northland DHB has no financial interest in promoting the vaccine. We are purely interested in protecting our young children and youth from a disease that is very serious, and a tragedy for whanau affected by it.


Dr Clair Mills

Medical Officer of Health
Northland DHB


ENDS

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