On June 22,
the government issued its response 
to the Report of the Health Select Committee following its Inquiry into how to increase vaccination completion rates.
Katherine Smith, the spokeswoman for No Forced Vaccines ,
an organisation set up to oppose the coercive recommendations in the Health Select Committee Report
says that while the parts of the government’s response to the Report are “encouraging”
– others raise significant concerns.
The government’s statement that “immunisation is a choice in New Zealand”
“Efforts to achieve on-target immunisation must respect the individual’s, parent’s, and guardian’s rights to make an informed choice and decision”
is an encouraging affirmation of human rights,
other parts of the government’s response to the Health Select Committee Report 
still give cause for concern, according to Smith.
“One of the most disturbing recommendations in the report of the Health Select Committee was that parents be required to supply information about their children’s vaccination status
when enrolling a child in an early childhood centre or school.” Smith says.
“Recommendation 18 in the report stated that the required information
‘should consist of either a certificate demonstrating hat a child has received all the appropriate vaccinations,
or a written statement that the parents have declined to immunise their child.’ ”
This recommendation, Smith maintains, appears to be designed to force parents to choose between their child either having all vaccinations recommended by the Ministry of Health or deciding against vaccination entirely,
in order for them to be able to supply the documentation necessary to enrol their children in a preschool or school.
“I am concerned” Mrs Smith continues, “that the recommendation allows no middle ground for the many parents who support vaccination
but want their children to have some vaccines but not others.
Given that presently the Health (Immunisation) Regulations (1995)  allow for early childhood centres and schools to identify children who have been vaccinated against a particular disease,
or not, as the case may be, there is no need to change the current legal framework concerning the provision of information about children’s vaccination status to schools or preschools.
The government should have rejected recommendation 18 entirely.
Instead, the decision has been made to ‘explore the issue further.”
Recommendation 12 of the report of the Health Select Committee includes
“examining the possibility of linking existing parental benefits to immunisation”
– which Smith says, opens up the possibility that parents who do not vaccinate their children according to Ministry of Health recommendations
may face financial penalties.
Smith says it is good that the government’s response states that
“any incentive scheme needs to be carefully thought through to ensure there are no perverse, unintended or inequitable consequences”.
However, she says it is worrying that the government has not ruled out
“linking existing parental benefits” to children’s vaccinations,
given that “any policy that does link children’s vaccinations to parental benefits
opens up the possibility that parents could be effectively financially blackmailed into vaccinating their children
– even if it is apparent to parents that the vaccinations
are having a detrimental effect on their children’s health.”
Another part of the government’s response that is of concern, Smith says,
is that the government has not rejected outright the recommendations in Dr Nikki Turner’s “Six star plan” that were highly coercive,
including making continuing access to 20 Hours Free ECE conditional on children either having had all recommended vaccinations for their age,
or their parents having decided against vaccination.
“This part of Dr Turner’s plan should have been singled out by the government as unacceptable,
given that if it were instituted it would deprive many children of the chance to participate in early childhood education as the loss of the 20 Hour Free ECE funding would make children’s attendance at an early childhood centre
unaffordable for many parents.”
Other recommendations of concern in the “Six star plan”, Smith says,
included using contracts with health professionals to gag those who have concerns about vaccination safety or ethics from sharing their concerns with either the general public
– or even their own patients.
This recommendation too,
she maintains should have been rejected outright since if instituted it would infringe the freedom of expression of health professionals.
Moreover, according to Smith,
it could compromise public health and safety as health professionals could face loss of
vital government contracts
if they spoke out against any vaccine that they considered to be causing unacceptable side effects
– a penalty that could deter many would-be whistle blowers.
The Ministry of Health is due to report back to the government on Dr Turner’s “Six star plan” by 31 March, 2012.
“All New Zealanders who support the basic human right of being able to make a free and informed decision about medical treatments,
need to remain vigilant given that the government has not decisively rejected the coercive recommendations
in either Dr Turner’s ‘Six star plan’ or the report of the Health Select Committee,” Smith concludes.
June 23, 2011
This press release was produced as a public information service by No Forced Vaccines. To request an interview with Katherine Smith please visit www.noforcedvaccines.org and email the site coordinator through the Contact form.