New Zealander of the Year calls for compulsory vaccinations

The Herald reports:

A leading New Zealand doctor has called on the Government to follow Australia’s example to cut child welfare payments to families who do not vaccinate their children, saying the policy would help protect the most vulnerable in our society.

Dr Lance O’Sullivan, who was named New Zealander of the Year 2014, said all parents – no matter their income – should be compelled to vaccinate their children.

“I think the bottom line for me is we need to have strategies and initiatives that will protect our children, and in particular vulnerable children, and by definition that would be children living in welfare homes,” he said.

“This is not and shouldn’t be seen as a welfare benefit bashing sort of idea, I would see this as a proactive idea to ensure those very vulnerable children are protected by a best practice decision, which is immunising children. We know that if you have children immunised they’re going to have reduced disease and burden of disease.

“The vaccine preventable diseases that I see in my practice and in my community are worrying. We see children with pneumonia, and other serious infections that we know should be non-existent, or at least very rare, in our communities and in our country.”

His comments come after Australia announced a new policy to be introduced next year that would cut a number of child and family benefits from parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. The legislation – dubbed ‘no jab, no pay’ – has been met with a mixed response.

I don’t support compulsion, but I do think parents should bear the financial consequences of their decisions.

It is worth noting the immunisation rate for two year olds has increased from 76% in 2008 to 93.5% today,which is a massive increase. And very pleasing is the fact the Maori and Pacific rates are the same or higher at the European rates – as they are groups that used to have much lower rates. Maori rate has gone from 73% to 93% and Pacific from 81% to 97%.

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