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Improving childhood immunisation completion rates

18 November 2009

Media statement

Health Committee

How to improve completion rates of childhood immunisation

The Health Committee has initiated an inquiry into how to improve completion rates of childhood immunisation.

Many New Zealand children suffer measles, whooping cough, pneumococcal pneumonia and other relatively common infectious diseases despite immunisation being available at no charge. The mortality and related co-morbidity is high and could be prevented.

There is clear scientific evidence that the benefits of high levels of immunisation to the individual and to society outweigh the disadvantages (very rare, but sometimes severe side effects).

Our immunisation completion rates are far lower than in many other developed and underdeveloped countries (which have completion rates up to 95%), and there are significant inequities for many of our most vulnerable children. (Māori uptake in Auckland and Counties Manukau is 64%).

This inquiry specifically does not seek to recommend that immunisation be compulsory.

The terms of reference for this inquiry are as follows:

1. To collate current statistics for New Zealand children on timeliness of delivery and completion of immunisation, and how we compare internationally.
2. To assess how well the New Zealand Immunisation Register is working, and the effectiveness of utilisation.
3. To search relevant world literature for optimal methods of how to achieve timely and high immunisation completion rates.
4. To seek up-to-date information on community concerns, informed consent and conscientious objection issues.
5. To seek an analysis of benefits and disadvantages.
6. To define, and make recommendations as to what methods could be applied at minimal cost to improve immunisation in New Zealand,( bearing in mind the first 60% are easier to get, the next 20-30% require more effort, the next 5% lots of effort and around 5% are declines).

The committee will be advertising for submissions in the next few days.


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