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King silent over massive vaccine crisis

Paul Hutchison
National Party Health Spokesman

11 March 2005

King silent over massive vaccine crisis

Vulnerable New Zealanders are being denied access to their vital flu vaccine, while Health Minister Annette King silently presides over a massive botch-up, says National’s Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

He is commenting on reports that this year’s flu vaccine has been delayed.

“Potentially this is one of the worst public health crises for a long time and Labour have left vulnerable New Zealanders completely in the dark,” says Dr Hutchison.

“The vaccine was due out on March 1, and GPs were sent a note saying there was a delay, so clearly the Minister must have known for weeks. “

“Drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, who has consistently supplied the vaccine on time for several years, was beaten to Pharmac’s tender by a very small margin by MSD, who are now unable to supply the vaccine.

“This is particularly serious because at this late stage it may be very difficult to obtain sufficient supplies,” says Dr Hutchison.

“To put people’s lives at risk to save a few pennies is outrageous.

Dr Hutchison says doctors are urgently compiling lists of the vulnerable elderly, asthmatics and health workers who were expecting to receive the vaccine, but both the doctors and their patients simply don’t know what’s going on.

One GP told Dr Hutchison “the situation is very serious because it takes a while for immunity to develop and the flu can hit at any time”.

Dr Hutchison says it’s appalling that Ms King has not been honest with vulnerable people, whose lives could be threatened.

“King’s incompetence leaves her with no choice but to resign.”

Ends

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