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Three Parties Question Health Minister on Vaccine

Winston Peters joins with Labour and Green MPs to question Annette King on MeNZB vaccine:


For the first time three MPs from three different parties questioned the safety and efficacy of the MeNZB vaccine from the floor of Parliament. There was no TV coverage of the story.

This past Tueday 20/10/04, Winston Peters, Metiria Turei (Green) and Nanaia Mahuta (Labour) questioned Minister of Health Annette King about the safety and efficacy of the MeNZB vaccine. The NZPA (NZ Press Association) covered it and the Herald picked it up and ran it yesterday (Wed, 20 Oct) under the headline "Minister Defends Vaccine Safety".

If these MPs are right, there may indeed be some problems not only with the way the trials were conducted, but with the manufacturer of the vaccine (Chiron) which just had its licence suspended in the UK, and even with fact that the efficacy of the so-called Norwegian "parent vaccine" was not high enough to justify a national release in Norway. Yet this is an important hook on which the MoH hung its case for both safety and efficacy onf the MeNZB vaccine, selling it to New Zealanders on the basis of the success of this Norwegian vaccine.

About $200,000,000 tax dollars have been used to fund a national vaccination campaign which aims to vaccinate more tham a million young New Zealanders, in the largest mass campaign in NZ history.

Below is the Hansard Transcript of the debate:


Winston Peters joins with Labour and Green MPs to question Annette King on MeNZB vaccine:

For the first time three MPs from three different parties questioned the safety and efficacy of the MeNZB vaccine from the floor of Parliament. There was no TV coverage of the story.

This past Tueday 20/10/04, Winston Peters, Metiria Turei (Green) and Nanaia Mahuta (Labour) questioned Minister of Health Annette King about the safety and efficacy of the MeNZB vaccine. The NZPA (NZ Press Association) covered it and the Herald picked it up and ran it yesterday (Wed, 20 Oct) under the headline "Minister Defends Vaccine Safety".

If these MPs are right, there may indeed be some problems not only with the way the trials were conducted, but with the manufacturer of the vaccine (Chiron) which just had its licence suspended in the UK, and even with fact that the efficacy of the so-called Norwegian "parent vaccine" was not high enough to justify a national release in Norway. Yet this is an important hook on which the MoH hung its case for both safety and efficacy onf the MeNZB vaccine, selling it to New Zealanders on the basis of the success of this Norwegian vaccine.

About $200,000,000 tax dollars have been used to fund a national vaccination campaign which aims to vaccinate more tham a million young New Zealanders, in the largest mass campaign in NZ history.

Below is the Hansard Transcript of the debate (October 19 2004):

Meningococcal Disease/Vaccination 5.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader NZ First) to the Minister of Health: When was she informed of the heightened concern among the New Zealand public regarding meningococcal disease, and is she confident that the vaccine for meningococcal disease now being prescribed by the Ministry of Health is safe?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): I became aware of the epidemic in the 1990s. The disease rates had doubled from 1991 to 1992, and again from 1994 to 1995. By that time it was obvious that the disease had reached epidemic proportions. Yes, I am confident that the vaccine is safe. That confidence is based on the independent safety monitoring boardís report on the vaccine, released on 15 October, which found there were no issues of concern regarding the vaccineís safety.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the question of safety of this vaccine, is it not a fact that 80 percent of trial victims had a reaction to the vaccine, and that no placebo tests were done without which there is no credibility in any drug trial?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The clinical trials carried out on this test were up to international standards. There is no doubt about that. The reactions from the vaccine have all been predicted. No reactions that have been reported to the reaction centre are outside what was expected.

Nanaia Mahuta: Has the Minister seen any reports claiming that the epidemic is ______ , and that there is no longer any need for a vaccine; if so, what is her response to that claim?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I am aware, and a number of people have claimed this, but it is not a view I share. There were around 50 confirmed or suspected cases in 1990, before the epidemic began; today there are over 500. We would have to wonder at people who believe it has finished at this stage I am certainly not convinced, and neither are the people responsible for the roll-out of this vaccine.

Judith Collins: Does she believe that the efforts of the Northland District Health Board, to stop general practitioners displaying a vaccine poster because it had a slightly cropped picture of a womanís head were correct; if so, why?

Hon ANNETTE KING: It is not a matter whether I think it is correct. There are Judith Collins: Donít you have an opinion?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Well, if the member would like to wait for me to finish the answer before she starts screeching, I will give it to her.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order,

Mr Speaker. I never heard you say a thing.

Mr SPEAKER: I heard an interjection. I heard a reply I heard a response to the interjection. The response went a little far. If a person interjects, then the Minister can reply to it.

Hon ANNETTE KING: I withdraw and apologise. It is not for me to decide which poster will be used. There are a number of posters that can be used, and I do not mind which one they do use. I am more interested in getting maximum coverage for the immunisation programme. However, I have to agree with my colleague Dover Samuels, who said: There is not need to do a haka over the poster.

Metiria Turei: Why did the Minister say in July of this year that the meningococcal epidemic has shown no signs of abating, when answers to written questions show that the number of meningococcal cases has been declining since 2001 and that as of week 38 of this year, there has been a 73 percent decrease in the number of deaths, compared to 2001?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The member will be aware, from the answers to that question. She was also provided with this graph. It shows that we peaked at the same amount in 1997 as we did in 2001. It dropped down, and then spiked up again. To say that we are not going to continue that trend means that she knows a lot more than the experts.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister agree with the comments of the Ministry of Health Meningococcal Vaccine Strategy Director, Dr Jane OíHallahan, that: Amateur interpretation of complex scientific data is dangerous., and that people in the public eye and media should not resort to emotive claims which could result in vulnerable children missing out on this much-needed vaccine?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Again on the question of this vaccineís safety, why is the ministry referring to the extensive trials conducted in Norway where the parent vaccine, similar to MENZB, was trialled, which was tested on 180,000 adolescents, yet never refers to the fact that the Norwegian Government decided against the use of this vaccine, after research concluded that it was not effective enough to justify a national campaign; why did that happen?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Norway, unfortunately, had the experience of suffering meningococcal-B for 25 years. When the Norwegian Government trialled a vaccine on 180,000 people, with 360,000 doses, it was in the 19th year of that epidemic. A decision was taken by then, based on the evidence they had, that it did not stack up in terms of cost-benefit, so they did not continue with it. If we have had it for 13 years, on the basis of what happened in Norway we would need to have another 10 years of this epidemic with all of the consequences that come from it, including 220 deaths to date, and over 5,400 New Zealanders affected.

Judith Collins: I seek leave of the House to table an email from the Northland District Health Board instructing general practitioners not to display the poster because it might be considered culturally unsafe.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.

Hon ANNETTE KING: I seek leave to table a press release from Mr Heatley wanting to have the vaccine in Northland as fast as possible.

Leave granted.

Judith Collins: I seek leave to table a copy of the so-called culturally unsafe poster.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table the poster. Is there any objection? There is.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a 7 October 2004 press statement from the UK in respect of Chiron, the manufacturer site licence suspension in the UK.

Leave granted.


And here's my story that ran in scoop last week:


Norwegian "Parent Vaccine" Never Released In Norway

By Jon Eisen

NZ Ministry of Health Book Admits ("Immunisation Handbook 2002")

There are now some very serious questions being asked by scientists, doctors and medical researchers about both the safety as well as the efficacy of the MeNZB vaccine, especially now that Chiron, the manufacturer of the vaccine is in the news in the UK and USA for the contamination of its latest flu vaccine.

It appears as though there is a huge problem with the case that the NZ Ministry of Health has made to the NZ public.

One of the key points is that the Norwegian "parent" vaccine on whose "success" the MoH has based much of its sell to the NZ public, was never generally released in Norway. However, the Ministry actually cites this fact in its "Immunisation Handbook 2002", though public announcements in the run up to the vaccine "roll out" have never cited this fact.

After very extensive trials on about 180,000 children and teens, the Norwegian authorities concluded that it simply was not sufficently effective to merit general release. Moreover, the Norwegian meningococcal epidemic was well on the wane anyhow without any vaccine (see below for details).

Something similar has happened in New Zealand, where both deaths and notifications from meningococcal disease have reduced by 75% and 50% respectfully, in the last three years (with no vaccine).

A summary of the main points about the vaccine:

•Does the vaccine actually work as advertised?

While there may be some benefits from the vaccine, it’s difficult to know for sure. The manufacturer’s own data sheet says that “no prospective efficacy trials have been performed with MeNZB”. The Ministry of Health says that the vaccination programme is proceeding …“without efficacy data.”

In other words, there is no proof that the vaccine will in fact prevent meningoccocal disease.

•Is the MeNZB vaccine safe?

This is also difficult to establish. There are many risks that may be as yet unknown. The MeNZB is a new vaccine with a very limited trial period and limited trial numbers of individuals who participated (about 1600). Moreover, these people were followed up for only “up to seven days” to monitor “adverse events”. However, some of the more serious “adverse events” that may happen with vaccines may not show up for many years. Some vaccines that are still being promoted as “safe and effective” are now believed by many researchers to cause some kinds of cancer, insulin dependent diabetes and autism. .

• Adverse reactions/effectiveness

Most vaccines have some adverse reactions, which can range in severity from trivial to life-threatening.The adverse reactions reported to date following the MeNZB vaccine are relatively minor such as soreness at the injection site, low grade fever and mood changes. However, with every vaccine there is the potential for serious long term side effects. The Norwegian meningococcal B vaccine, on which the NZ vaccine is based, caused a number of serious side effects, including allergic shock, blood in the urine as well as some long term health problems such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a neurological disorder that can include paralysis) and ME (Chronic Fatigue syndrome). While it is not yet known whether the MeNZB vaccine could cause these conditions, the fact that they have been associated with a very similar vaccine is cause for concern. Many of these problems will only become apparent after long-term follow up of vaccine recipients.

• Professor Dianna Lennon of Auckland University, principal researcher on the vaccine, has revealed that it is not even known whether the increase in antibodies occuring in people who have been inoculated (about 25% have no antibody response), is sufficient to provide protection against the disease. (Moreover, it is not yet known how long the elevated levels of antibodies will last.)

• The full extent of the safety and effectiveness of MeNZB will only be known after the vaccination campaign is finished if the data gathered is released by the MoH.

In the meantime, the NZ vaccination programme must be considered “experimental.”

• The Norwegian “Parent Vaccine”

The MoH has tried to allay concerns over the MeNZB vaccine by referring to the extensive trials conducted in Norway on the Norwegian “parent vaccine” (similar to the MeNZB), which was tested on 180,000 adolescents.

However, what the MoH seldom tells the public is that outside of the trials, the Norwegian vaccine was never even used, after researchers concluded that it wasn't effective enough to justify a national campaign. According to The Lancet “the calculated rate of protection (57.2%)” was not high enough to justify a full-scale programme. According to the NZ MoH Immunisation Handbook(2002) the epidemic was naturally declining in Norway anyhow, without a full scale vaccination campaign. Furthermore, the Norwegian tests never involved participants younger than 14, while the MoH is hoping to vaccinate all young New Zealanders from 20 years down to 6 month old babies!

Does Meningococcal B ‘cause’ the disease?

• The Ministry of Health acknowledges the meningococcal bacterium lives harmlessly in the throats and nasal passages of up to 45% of all New Zealanders. Since it is not contagious, why do some people fall ill to the “disease” while the vast majority do not?

A depleted and overtaxed immune system is the most likely answer. Indeed, in 2000, Minister of Health Annette King, said that this disease was a “disease of poverty”. In NZ as elsewhere people living in poverty often have poor nutrition. Specifically, deficiencies in vitamin C and iron have been found to increase the risk of children developing meningococcal disease. Regardless of family income, some children and teenagers may also have exposure to excessive amounts of sugar, food additives and other toxins (such as cigarette smoke), which may also deplete the immune system.

• Is there really an “epidemic” of the disease in New Zealand?

It all depends on what you mean by the term “epidemic”. In the last 10 years 70,000 people have died from cancer. 60,000 have died from heart disease and 15,000 people have died from “preventable medical injury”. In that time 150 people have died from meningococcal B disease.

In any event, the number of deaths has decreased in the last three years by 75% and the number of cases has declined by 50%. This is prior to the introduction of the vaccine. The reasons for this decline have not been explained by the MoH.

• More facts about the MeNZB vaccine

• SECRET INGREDIENTS: Many of the ingredients in the vaccine are considered to be “proprietary”. In other words, neither the Ministry of Health nor the manufacturer will disclose everything that’s in the vaccine. Medsafe, the Ministry of Health agency which licenses pharmaceutical medicines and vaccines, has refused to state what medium was used to culture the bacteria used in the MeNZB vaccine, what agents were used to deactivate the bacteria, and what agents were used to purify the vaccine.

• The MoH admits that the vaccine contains aluminium hydroxide, a proven neurotoxin (nerve poison), and that there is no safety data on its use with other vaccines.

The obvious question then becomes, "Can you give an “informed consent” to a vaccine without knowing what’s in it?"

The MoH has likewise refused to give information about the selection process for participants in the vaccine trial, or whether (or why) any withdrew from the vaccine trial and if they did withdraw, whether they have been followed up. (Many trials can be and have been manipulated by the participant selection process and by removing mention of those who withdraw.)

•Don’t scientists believe that vaccines are good?

Science and medicine are by no means unanimous about vaccines. In fact, there is a long-running controversy about both the safety as well as the effectiveness of many vaccines. Many doctors and scientists think that vaccines are generally safe and effective. However, many other doctors and scientists disagree. The safety and effectiveness of the NZ Meningococcal B vaccine are also now a matter of contention among doctors and health professionals.

  • • For more information about meningococcal disease, the MeNZB and other vaccines:

  • Immunisation Awareness Society: http://www.ias.org.nz Red Flags Weekly: http://redflagsweekly.com ALSO: http://www.nccn.net/~wwithin/vaccine.htm http://vaccinationnews.com

    There is a Public Meeting on the vaccine to be held on October 28 at 7pm (Trades Union Hall, Great North Rd, Ak)

    P.S. For additional coverage of this issue, please look out for the new issue of HEALTHY OPTIONS magazine at the end of October for a brilliant expose of the whole affair by Ron Law, former expert consultant to the Ministry of Health. In addition, the current issue of INVESTIGATE magazine has an excellent piece called "Poisoned Apple" by Barbara Sumner-Burstyn on the coverup of the failure of the MeNZB vaccine. In addition there is a piece by me on what the vaccine "package insert" actually says about how poorly this vaccine was trialled.


    See http://www.gefree.org.nz for the national Coalition website.

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