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King underplays vaccine crisis

Paul Hutchison MP - National Party Health Spokesman

15 March 2005

King underplays vaccine crisis

Annette King has underplayed the fact that of the 700,000 people who need the flu vaccine, only 50,000 will get a vaccine that protects against the most concerning Wellington strain, says National’s Health spokesman, Dr Paul Hutchison.

He is commenting on an announcement today that Australian company Solvay Pharmaceuticals will supply a small amount of flu vaccine, which is effective against all three strains of flu identified by the World Health Organisation.

This is in addition to the vaccine that Sanofi Pasteur is already contracted to provide, which is not effective against the Wellington strain.

“Only 50,000 doses will be available from Solvay Pharmaceuticals, but who will get them?

“Does this mean that some New Zealanders will get a vaccine that is effective, and others will get a vaccine that will probably not be affective against the Wellington flu strain?

”The proposal by the Ministry of Health that it could give people double-doses of the ineffective vaccine must be examined extremely carefully because of the added danger of exaggerated side-effects and reactions,” says Dr Hutchison.

“The seriousness of not having a safe, effective flu vaccine has been underplayed by both Ms King and the Ministry of Health, but it will affect more than 700,000 people, some of whom could die without it.

“Almost 650,000 New Zealanders may be forced to compromise by getting a vaccine that is essentially useless against the Wellington strain.

“Annette King has multiple problems to solve, including who should get the effective vaccine. Her own credibility is also in doubt, because there is great concern as to whether she acted on the problem immediately after she was told about it,” says Dr Hutchison.


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