THE ANTI-IMMUNISATION DEBATE
I can understand the concepts that
drive the anti-immunisation stalwarts. As parents, we have always had
trepidations about vaccinations.
There is a lot of misinformation out there and limited resources to disseminate
the truth. Some say there are other methods of treatment so it is understandable
people have concerns about what is touted as the only effective treatment
being immunisation via intravenous injection.
Therefore the only way to make an informed decision is to find out if
the information supplied by the people administering the vaccine has been
verified by independent medical authorities both in New Zealand and overseas.
The Ministry of Health went as far as saying they had 'no safety concerns' about the vaccine whatsoever.
From my own point of view, Charlotte is a living example of what can happen
if you don't vaccinate against meningococcal.
We missed out on the possibility of immunisation because (a) it wasn't
available and (b) Charlotte was probably too young to receive it anyway
(extended trials on under 6mth olds delayed its use on them due to the
higher number of other vaccines they receive during that period of life.
Those trials have now been concluded and the MeNZB™ vaccine is now
approved for children from 6 weeks old and up)
and (c) we were not in the initial roll-out area of South Auckland.
It doesn't get any worse than this. Why would you not vaccinate if this
is the potential outcome?
That is why I am disappointed in those who would have us believe nutrition
and reduction in poverty are the two keys to eliminating this disease.
Pam breast fed Charlotte from day one until she was 8 months old - she
developed meningococcal at just 6 months. Breast milk is the best immune
system builder available and may be part of the reason Charlotte didn't
Pam has two other girls aged 8 and 12 and has taken an active interest
in their nutrition and health supplementing their diets with all manner
of vitamins for 12 years.
Charlotte was already sampling broccoli and carrots, pears and other vegetables
and fruits so there was in our opinion, no issue with her lack of nutrition.
Secondly, we do not live in overcrowded, damp or unsanitary conditions.
Charlotte has not had to want for anything. Her living area is clean,
warm and dry. She had never suffered a cold or even a sniffle before this
so she does not in any way fit the stereotypical 'at-risk' group other
than being a baby with an immature immune system. So whilst poverty and
over-crowding may be contributing factors, they are not the cause of this
Recent controversial statements by certain anti-immunisation individuals
shows a lack of medical knowledge on their part. The Ministry of Health's
information has been verified by independent international medical authorities
and they have "no safety concerns" regarding this vaccine.
Talk of third phase testing is proof of this lack of understanding. USA,
UK and Australia have all released OMV vaccines without going to third
phase testing. This would prolong the release date by years - years we
do not have to fight this disease and are not required for this type of
OMV vaccine's are relatively simple to produce and the MeNZB™ vaccine
contains only saline (salt water), histadine (a naturally occurring amino
acid), aluminum hydroxide (less than your daily intake in food and less
than that in breast milk) and the Outer Membrane Vesicle (OMV) of the
meningococcal B strain (no actual bacterium so impossible to catch the
disease from the vaccine).
It does not contain any antibiotics, bovine or human blood products or
A recent statement by anti-immunisation activists that the Ministry of
Health does not know the outcome of this vaccine programme is stretching
the truth somewhat. After almost 100 years of using vaccines, there are
expected outcomes that have come to pass in both independent trials carried
out by Auckland University and in the roll-out of the vaccine across the
Chile and Cuba released effectively the same vaccine (only the OMV of
our unique strain of meningococcal B was changed) and had great success
in reducing contraction rates. In Cuba's case, some 6 million doses were
The New Zealand B strain is unique to this country so it is impossible
to field test anywhere else. Chile, Cuba and Norway's vaccine's provided
the basis for the relatively rapid development of MeNZB™. Without
their precedent, MeNZB™ would have taken many more years to develop
No vaccine is 100% effective and the same is true for the MeNZB™
vaccine. Efficacy is approximately 75% so there are some individuals who
will not get the 4 fold rise in antibodies required to combat the disease.
Therefore vigilance is important even after immunisation and there are
a number of other strains that this vaccine will not protect against however
the NZ B strain accounts for 80% of cases and is more aggressive than
the other types.
At the end of the day, the decision to immunise should be based on the
facts. As stated above, the Ministry of Health's research has stood up
to international scrutiny whereas the alarmist statements being made by
non-medical anti-immunisation activists remain poor interpretations of
the data at best and tantamount to sabotage at worst.
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