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Series 2, Episode 1 The 48 23 Oct 14 00:40:46

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Adverts inform parents on vaccine

Published: 6:59PM Saturday June 18, 2005 Source: One News

The Ministry of Health is spending $130,000 on a newspaper campaign to combat what it calls misinformation about the Meningococcal B vaccination programme.

It says some parents are being misled by false claims about the vaccine's safety and usefulness, and are putting their children at risk by refusing the vaccine.

At meetings around New Zealand parents have been listening to Ron Law challenging the vaccination.

Law describes himself as a risk analyst who has worked in medical laboratories. He and a freelance journalist have teamed up against the Health Ministry's vaccination programme.

Law says the ministry is ramping up the benefits of the vaccine and downplaying the potentially adverse effects. "People will have to ask the question is this vaccine necessary, is it effective, is it safe?" says Law

The ministry has hit back with an open letter to parents in newspapers nationwide urging them to reconsider the vaccine.

"We decided to put in the open letter to address some of the false claims that are circulating, says Vaccination Programme Coordinator Dr Jane O'Hallahan.

The letter is being endorsed by all key health groups, including Auckland University's Immunisation Advisory Centre.

Dr Nikki turner says it's alarming that people with no scientific credibility have gained a large amount of "air space" when a lot of what they say has no basis in science.

Turner says anti vaccination campaigners don't know what they're talking about.

"They clearly do not understand how to read the science, how to read the statistics," says Turner.

The campaign aims to inoculate all 1.1 million New Zealanders aged under 20 against an epidemic that's killed 231 New Zealanders since 1991.

Turner says the implications of wrong information is confusing for parents and that more children may miss out on a vaccination.

O'Hallahan says so far just a handful of parents have decided to withdraw their children.

"We're concerned about any children withdrawn from this programme because of false claims. This vaccine is going to save lives," says O'Hallahan.

The Ministry of Health is hoping it will convince all parents to get their children vaccinated.

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