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LINDSAY MITCHELL: Deadly excuses

Today Health NZ, Te Whatu Ora, released its latest report on childhood immunisation which includes longstanding vaccinations against the likes of diphtheria, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella.


Compared to other ethnicities, Maori children have had consistently lower immunisation rates which the report says, "...leave tamariki Māori disproportionately vulnerable and exposes Aotearoa to significant risk of vaccination-preventable disease outbreak through inadequate herd immunity."


A concerted effort was embarked upon in 2009 to lift immunisation rates. It formed one of National's Better Public Service targets (later dropped by the incoming Labour government). The result was positive:





Maori and Pacific rates climbed markedly as did, unsurprisingly, the rate in the poorest deciles (Dep 9-10)


The next graph, from today's report, shows immunisation by age 2, a slightly different but relevant parameter:





Apart from Asian children the gains made have been lost. Some of this is due to the vaccinator workforce being diverted into covid work. However the decline - particularly for Maori - began around 2017.


The current rates are now described as a "crisis". What has happened?


The "barriers" to vaccination are claimed to be poverty, racism, lack of trust and safety concerns.


Despite the vaccines being free, poverty affects rates in every group except Asians, who even in the highest deprivation deciles mostly manage to get their child immunised:





According to the report:


"Despite childhood immunisations being free, costs are associated with getting to vaccinations, such as transport, time off employment and family members owing money to practices. Clinic times often clash with work, school pickups, availability of child-minding for children not requiring vaccination at the same time, or other whānau responsibilities."


Yet there is a group who show none of this matters. Perhaps instead of excuse-making, policy-makers could focus on the Asian communities and why poverty doesn't affect their vaccination decisions and actions.


The next 'barrier' is racism characterized by "mono-cultural institutions which simply ignore and freeze out the cultures of those who do not belong to the majority." Asians aren't frozen out though.


In another twist of logic, because Pacific vaccination rates are better than Maori, yet Pacific families live with "worse deprivation", this "persistent gap can only be explained by systemic racism."


So the racism is only directed towards Maori.


What are we to believe then. That racism against Maori declined up until the period 2014-17 when 2 year immunisation coverage for Maori children was 92-93 percent but it has reappeared since?


Racism is a red herring.


As such it will be far more than a mere irritant if - or when - a childhood epidemic breaks out and Maori children die.


To avoid that tragic eventuality health promoters should quit with bogus excuses and take a hard look at why one group of parents, in spite of all the so-called "barriers" overwhelmingly safeguard their young against diseases that may be deadly.



Lindsay Mitchell blogs here


2,574 views69 comments

69 comentarios


Immunisers lost all credibility when they hopped on board the covid-collectivizer bandwandgon. The "you are all going to die" Peter and the Wolf catcall has been flogged to death, and no-one is listening anymore. Plus word has slipped out about the Tuskegee experiment. Not to mention the link between heavy Vaccine rates and child autism, that no one wants to investigate.

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The report stated that efforts to increase vaccination uptake to reach herd immunity should be specifically targeted towards groups that are under immunised. Identification of the problems is the first step in knowing the areas to focus on to find solutions.


Amongst the many recommendations is the proposal to increase the number of vaccinators authorised to provide childhood vaccinations, and investigate which services should be providing opportunistic childhood immunisations, based on service use by Māori, Pacific and disability populations.

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Contestando a

What are you on about?

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The fun thing here is, that with a low rate of immunisation then that means the chance of an outbreak of a previous nasty (there are many) will erupt through the general population. Obviously that will be quickest, easiest via areas/places where the immunity is the least.


The absolutely great thing then, about that, is Mother Nature will indeed take that opportunity and ensure that an appropriate price is paid, dearly, for the stupid's.


NB: I have no problem with anyone making a choice to or not to, that is indeed 100% their choice. However, the consequence must also follow that choice, don't come bleating afterwards....!!!

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Contestando a

All the more reason to increase the vaccination rates amongst the least immunised groups.

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Picker N Grin
Picker N Grin
06 abr 2023

Don't sweat those who don't want to vaccinate, its their choice

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Contestando a

It should always be a choice - provided the said vaccination is actually "safe and effective" and not the exact opposite. If the latter, it should not be an option for the general population at all.

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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
06 abr 2023

There are vaccines that work, apart from one particular one ( not going there now, topic creep).

This annoys me.

New Zealand is already a vast multicultural society, the makeup of which is diverse and varied, and , by and large, we accept each others cultural differences and work well together.

Every one in new Zealand has equal access to vaccination , whatever breed you come from.

To blame the low uptake on vaccination on the current health structure, and have the bare faced cheek and temerity to label the system as somehow racist is a direct insult to those that are at the coalface, and , amongst everything else, have to deal with this accusation. Believe me, a …


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Contestando a

Are you assuming that just because it’s free that “everyone in new Zealand has equal access to vaccination”? It’s not clear but you seem to lay the blame for the Māori poor vaccination statistics fair and squarely at the feet of unnamed Māori “elites”. This flies in the face of The Immunisation Taskforce‘s findings whose members represent a range of health leaders with experience in immunisation, midwifery, nursing, pharmacy and general practice. The taskforce has gathered information from existing research, past experience and current data to inform its report. Unfortunately the sources of your assertions are not listed, so it’s impossible to evaluate.

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