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.