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Problems with meningitis vaccine not surprising

Problems with meningitis vaccine not surprising – Maori Party

Hon Tariana Turia, Health spokesperson 25 July 2008

Maori Party Health spokesperson Tariana Turia says she can understand the outrage and confusion among Maori health workers over the failure of the meningitis vaccine to provide lasting protection to children – but she is not surprised.

“The vaccine was never tested on children before the government rushed it into use,” said Mrs Turia.

“There was a third lot of trials that were never completed, because the government said it was so urgent to start using the vaccine. Those trials would no doubt have shown that the vaccine gave only short-term protection.

“The information I had access to, told me that the course required repeated painful injections, but the benefits were unproven.

“That was the reason why I decided at the time that I would not encourage my own grandchildren to be vaccinated – and I was attacked and vilified by the Minister, Annette King, and Associate Minister Mita Ririnui when my personal opinion became public.

“I remember Mr Ririnui said I was ‘endangering the lives of my own whanau’ by ‘playing Russian roulette’.

“I never encouraged others to do the same as me, and just yesterday, Rahui Katene, our candidate for Te Tai Tonga, described the huge efforts her whanau has made to have all her mokopuna vaccinated – only to find they are no longer protected.

“I am very disappointed that so many people like Rahui now feel betrayed by the health system that has lulled them into a false sense of security, and I would like to know what Mrs King and Mr Ririnui have to say to all those people now,” said Mrs Turia.

"They attacked me for my doubts about that vaccine - do they now accept responsibility for their 200-million dollar fiasco undermining public confidence in immunisation?"


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