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Smith Has Facts Wrong On Cholera Vaccine

8 August 2001 Media Statement

Nick Smith should get his facts straight regarding the access of New Zealanders travelling overseas to the Orochol Berna vaccine, Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs said today.

"Throughout the period of the voluntary moratorium Orochol Berna was made available to GPs to prescribe for those travelling to cholera endemic countries." Marian Hobbs said.

Orochol Berna contains live genetically modified bacteria. A request to allow an application to be made to ERMA for approval to release Orochol Berna was turned down by the government because of the voluntary moratorium.

"However the government took a common sense decision to allow emergency supplies of the Orochol Berna vaccine to be made available until an alternative was found. That alternative, Dukoral, has recently become available in New Zealand.

"The safety of New Zealanders travelling to cholera effected countries has and is being protected. Medsafe has advised it is rare to vaccinate for cholera but if a person travelling to a suspect area wants to be vaccinated then vaccine is available. Dr Smith is simply scaremongering."

The government will make an announcement about the future of the voluntary moratorium before 31 August.

"Through the moratorium the government has built up the trust of a wide range of groups. We made a commitment that the moratorium would last until 31 August and we will stick to that." Ms Hobbs said.

Ends

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