Health Minister Opens First Immunisation Advisory Centre

  • Bill English

Health Minister Bill English today opened the country's first immunisation advisory centre in Auckland.

"Parents often go through real anguish deciding whether or not to immunise their children. Side-effect myths abound and that is why parents need factual advice on the benefits and risks," Mr English said.

"The Auckland centre will work through GPs, practice nurses, Plunket, public health nurses, Maori and Pacific Zealand vaccinators and to educate parents about immunisation.

"Some of these vaccinators are getting out into the back streets of some of our poorer suburbs to find the children who are always the hardest to reach with any health programme. These children live with adults who shift homes often, are not registered with a GP and often do not trust a white skinned person in a white coat holding a needle," he said.

"Armed with information that makes sense to the parents of these children, the vaccinator can help the parent make an informed choice.

"One of the problems with immunisation is the more successful it is, the less people see the horrific effects of the diseases we are trying to eradicate. Parents can then become complacent about the need to immunise their children," Mr English said.

"North Health's survey shows we are still only reaching about two thirds of children. New Zealand has a long way to go to really get the immunisation message understood.

"But the benefits are great, not only in saving children suffering and possibly their lives but also in actually eliminating particular diseases, if we do get almost all children immunised. For instance, as I announced this month, it could be possible to eliminate measles if immunisation rates are increased sufficiently," Mr English said.