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Minister must come clean on vaccine

Paul Hutchison MP National Associate Health spokesman

23 June 2004

Minister must come clean on vaccine

The Minister of Health must explain why she said the meningococcal vaccine is safe and will work, only to have it revealed the next day that Medsafe had not licensed the vaccine, says National's Associate Health spokesman, Dr Paul Hutchison.

He is commenting on a statement by Health Minister Annette King in Parliament on June 17 that the vaccine would provide protection against the epidemic strain of Group B meningococcal disease and that it was safe.

Dr Hutchison says: "The meningococcal epidemic is very serious and it is worrying when Annette King organises 'patsy' questions in Parliament and the next day she finds that all the safety results had not been processed through Medsafe.

"The $200 million campaign to immunise all New Zealanders under 20 is costly enough, but in places like Counties-Manukau, where teams of vaccinators have been contracted but can't start work, there is a waste of precious health dollars.

"The Health Minister must not make excuses for the botchup of the first batch of the vaccine by claiming commercial secrecy.

"She must clearly explain the reasons for delay, the costs of that delay and when the vaccination campaign will start," says Dr Hutchison

ENDS

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