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‘OPEN LETTER/OIA REQUEST’ to NZ Minister of Health Tony Ryall

1) Please provide the information which confirms to what degree, and upon what lawful basis regarding the ‘duty of care’ the Minister can assure New Zealand that the Baxter A/H1N1 influenza vaccine has been adequately tested before its release in NZ.

2) Given that Baxter was recently found to have contaminated its seasonal influenza (H3N2) vaccine with live H5N1 avian “bird flu” influenza virus, please provide the information which explains why the Ministry of Health decided to choose Baxter as the supplier of influenza vaccine for New Zealand for the A/H1N1 “swine flu” influenza outbreak.

3) If the Ministry of Health was unaware of Baxter’s record of manufacturing seasonal influenza vaccine contaminated with live avian H5N1(or bird flu) influenza virus when the order with Baxter was placed, now that the Minister is aware fact that Baxter either has criminally negligent manufacturing practices, or intentionally produced contaminated seasonal influenza vaccine, please provide the information which confirms why the Ministry of Health is not planning to cancel the order for A/H1N1 vaccine from Baxter International.

4) Given Baxter’s record of distributing of seasonal influenza vaccine contaminated with live avian influenza virus, in the event that the Minister still considers Baxter to be a suitable supplier of A/H1N1 vaccine to New Zealand, please provide the information which confirms what steps has he put in place for independent NZ-based testing of the vaccine prior to its use here to ensure that the vaccine supplied to NZers is not contaminated with live bird flu virus, or any other unlabelled contaminant that may cause adverse health effects to the recipient or people to whom the recipient could potentially infect.

5) Please provide the information which confirms how scientists with appropriate and relevant skills and experience will be selected to undertake this testing so that those who are not suitable (such as those who may have a conflict of interest in terms of prior relationships with Baxter or competing pharmaceutical companies, ownership of shares in these companies, a personal record of poor professional ethics such as failing to disclose previous conflicts of interest, support for global population reduction or eugenics etc) can be excluded to ensure that the testing of the vaccine can be done properly and without bias.

6) Please provide the information which confirms the existence of a ‘Register of Interests’ (or the like), for ALL persons directly employed, or contracted by the Ministry of Health where potential ‘conflicts of interest’, are identified and recorded, such as:

a)prior employment, (or other) relationships with pharmaceutical companies
b) ownership of shares in pharmaceutical companies

7) Please provide the information which confirms the existence of a ‘Register of Interests’ (or the like), for ALL persons directly employed, or contracted by MedSafe, where potential ‘conflicts of interest’, are identified and recorded, such as:

a)prior employment, (or other) relationships with pharmaceutical companies
b) ownership of shares in pharmaceutical companies

8) Please provide the information which confirms that the Minister will guarantee to make the full results of any and all such testing public.

9) Given the consent forms produced by the Ministry of Health in many prior mass vaccination campaigns (recently notable examples include the MeNZB campaign and the Gardasil campaign) have failed to disclose to potential vaccine recipients (and/or their parents/guardians) significant information that is necessary in order to make an informed decision please provide the information which confirms that the Minister will undertake to ensure that consent forms given to people who are offered the A/H1N1 vaccine are comprehensive, accurate and are designed in such a way to facilitate people making an informed choice about whether or not to accept this vaccine, rather than be designed to frighten people into accepting this vaccine.

10) Please provide the information which confirms that the Minister will guarantee that any consent forms to be signed by potential recipients, parents or guardians will include information as to the processes used to manufacture the vaccine, all vaccine ingredients, all known and reasonably anticipated vaccine side effects and the duration of the vaccine’s testing process and length of time that vaccine recipients have been followed up in safety studies, as well as the many different strategies available to prevent and/or treat the illness for individuals who decide against vaccination or if the vaccine fails to prevent the disease etc)

11) In the event that Baxter’s inadequately tested A/H1N1 “swine flu” vaccine causes injuries or deaths to its recipients either in the short or long term, please provide the information which confirms the plans has the Minister has made to compensate affected individuals and their surviving family members.

12) In the event that the Minister decides to use Baxter’s A/H1N1 vaccine without first conducting independent testing to ensure that it is free from live viruses (or other contaminants) and the use of Baxter’s A/H1N1 vaccine causes an epidemic of a new strain of influenza or novel infectious disease, please provide the information which confirms what plans the Minister has made to compensate individuals (who could become acutely or chronically ill, be left disabled or die) either as a result of being injected with the vaccine or by contracting the infection from an individual who had been vaccinated with Baxter’s A/H1N1 or a community contact who had contracted the infection from a vaccinee or someone else who had been in contact with a vaccinee.

13) Please provide the information which confirms the definition of the “first responders” to whom the 300,000 doses of Baxter’s A/H1N1 vaccine have been purchased. Are they:

a) Health professionals?
b) Firefighters?
c) Electricity and Telecommunications workers?
d) Teachers?
e)Vulnerable groups in the community such as the elderly or young children?

14) Please provide the information which confirms that the Minister can assure the NZ public that at no time during the WHO H1N1 pandemic will the human rights of “first responders” (or any other group of people to whom Baxter’s or any other manufacturer’s H1N1 vaccine is offered) will be respected and that vaccination will at no time become compulsory.

15) Please provide the information which confirms that the Minister can guarantee that people who decide against accepting the H1N1 vaccine will not suffer discrimination in the workplace such as suspension, change of duties, dismissal and that unvaccinated children will be allowed to continue to attend their normal pre-school or school as usual.

16) Considering that people who suffer from asthma are at greater risk of complications from influenza in general and that appropriate diet and nutritional supplements can help improve resistance to infection, reduce mucous in the airways and reduce inflammation, please provide the information which confirms that why the Minister has not made education about diet and nutritional medicine a basic part of asthma management rather than relying almost wholly on drug therapies for this chronic condition.

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