Make vac­cines com­pul­sory, ex­pert says

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - CRAIG HOYLE

A vis­it­ing vac­cine ex­pert be­lieves New Zealand should fol­low Aus­tralia’s lead and make vac­ci­na­tions com­pul­sory for all chil­dren.

Pro­fes­sor Ian Frazer said im­mu­ni­sa­tion should be treated as a pub­lic health is­sue for the gen­eral good of the pub­lic.

‘‘We make peo­ple wear seat­belts be­cause we know how great the cost is in terms of dam­age to hu­man lives if you don’t, and in­fec­tious dis­ease is no dif­fer­ent,’’ he said.

‘‘Aus­tralia has quite rightly taken a vig­or­ous ap­proach to cer­tain child­hood vac­ci­na­tions that vac­cines are not op­tional, they are manda­tory. If you choose not to have them, then there are con­se­quences.’’

Frazer said there was ‘‘a lot to be said’’ for advocating a sim­i­lar ap­proach in New Zealand.

His com­ments fol­lowed weeks of con­tro­versy over a tour of the film Vaxxed, which pro­motes the dis­cred­ited view that there is a con­nec­tion be­tween the MMR vac­cine and autism.

Dr Lance O’Sul­li­van thrust the film into na­tional de­bate when he stormed the stage at a North­land screen­ing to per­form a haka and warned at­ten­dees ‘‘your pres­ence here will cause ba­bies to die’’.

Frazer, an Aus­tralian re­searcher, is most fa­mously known as the in­ven­tor of the HPV vac­cine, which im­mu­nises against hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus to pro­tect women from cer­vi­cal can­cer.

His vac­cine has been ad­min­is­tered to more than 100 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide - and in 2006 he was named Aus­tralian of the Year for his decades of work in the field.

He is pres­i­dent of the Can­cer Coun­cil Aus­tralia, and also ad­vises the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion.

Frazer now works to ex­pand ac­cess to the HPV vac­cine in dev- elop­ing coun­tries, where deaths from cer­vi­cal can­cer are most preva­lent.

‘‘If any other virus killed quar­ter of a mil­lion peo­ple world­wide each year there would be a pub­lic out­cry,’’ he said.

‘‘Viruses like Zika and Ebola kill hun­dreds of peo­ple, and there’s a de­mand for uni­ver­sal im­mu­ni­sa­tion. But be­cause pa­pil­lo­mavirus is a virus which you get now, and it causes a prob­lem in 25 years, the en­thu­si­asm isn’t so great.’’

Frazer said there was no ev­i­dence the HPV vac­cine could be un­safe for teenage girls.

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