Call to make vac­ci­na­tions com­pul­sory


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 cer- tain 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 cau­tioned it was coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to ridicule or ig­nore anti-vaxxers, and in­stead en­cour­aged peo­ple to en­gage in open de­bate about the ben­e­fits of vac­ci­na­tion.

The 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. Frazer said there was no ev­i­dence the HPV vac­cine could be un­safe for teenage girls, as has been sug­gested by some op­po­nents.

‘‘No­body has yet come up with a con­vinc­ing story that has with­stood rig­or­ous test­ing, that there are any long-term com­pli­ca­tions to the HPV vac­cine.’’

Frazer ac­knowl­edged it was im­pos­si­ble to defini­tively rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of vac­cine in­jury, but said the ben­e­fits to pub­lic health al­ways out­weighed the pos­si­bil­ity of per­sonal harm.

Frazer has spo­ken at a num­ber of events dur­ing his visit to New Zealand, in­clud­ing a Par­lia­men­tary din­ner.

Ian Frazer in­vented the HPV vac­cine.

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