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Response to Sunday Star Times article on immunisation

Statement in response to Sunday Star Times article on immunisation 25 May 2015

The Midwifery Council was concerned to read an article in the Sunday Star Times yesterday which stated that some midwives were undermining Ministry of Health messages about immunisation.

The Midwifery Council expects that all midwives will work within the midwifery competencies, Standards of Practice and the Code of Health and Disability Consumer Rights to give women the information they need to make an informed decision about immunisation. Chief Executive of the Midwifery Council, Sharron Cole says: “If midwives do not give women balanced, accurate and current information, we will hold them accountable as they are falling short of the high professional standards that we apply to all practitioners.”

While the article referred to information coming from midwives and pregnancy class teachers and made reference to complaints made to the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IAC), no complaints have been laid with the Midwifery Council – either by individuals or by other organisations such the IAC or the Ministry of Health. Indeed, the mother interviewed for the story praised her midwife for providing her with information and addressing her concerns, but suggested that anecdotal opinions abound in the public arena about the pros and cons of immunisation.

The Midwifery Provider Organisation data shows that at handover to Well Child providers at six weeks after birth, over 90% of babies who have been under the care of a midwife are up to date with the immunisation schedule. This indicates that the vast majority of midwives are giving women appropriate information and support around immunisation.

The Council also points out that the MMR vaccination which the article says some midwives are trying to dissuade families from giving to their babies is given at 15 months, far outside the time midwives are providing care and information to mothers and babies.

Ms Cole is clear. “If any woman believes she has been given misleading advice by her midwife, they are encouraged to contact the Council. No midwife may give out information that is not factually correct. If they do, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action to hold them accountable.”

ENDS

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