Time to penalise parents who won't vaccinate their kids - Dr Lance O'Sullivan

  • 05/07/2018

Is it time to punish mums and dads who refuse to vaccinate their children?

This month, Australia rolled out their 'No jab, no pay' policy nationwide, and former New Zealander of the Year Dr Lance O'Sullivan says it's time we do that here.

Parents are constantly trying to keep their kids safe, but despite all the science and proof they work, many people refuse to get their children vaccinated.

Ten years ago New Zealand introduced a nationwide HPV vaccination programme in schools, which guards against the disfiguring and deadly disease with almost 100 percent certainty.

Yet more than 70 schools refused to take part, and Ministry of Health statistics show only two thirds of those eligible for the vaccine are actually getting it.

This week the Australian Government has started docking benefits from parents who won't immunise their children. It may seem harsh, but would similar action work in New Zealand?

Dr O'Sullivan says we should follow our closest neighbour's lead on this issue and "encourage people through proactive measures like this to vaccinate their children".

"We know that this will give their children better health outcomes and the population of New Zealand, so I would say yes, go for it."

He says it's true that such initiatives tend to target people in lower socio-economic brackets, but he thinks it's worth it.

"We have to be brave and courageous and say look when we know something is as protective as a vaccination, we have to be able to make a stand and say we need to do this to protect the children."

The internet has had a negative impact on many people's understanding of science, he says.

"When most people are shown the science and the absolute benefit of vaccination, most people come to a sensible conclusion. I think the problem is there's a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of uncertainty.

"I think this is where the Government needs to show leadership and say 'look, this is good for your child and we're going to put some measures in place to encourage people to make the right decision'."

He also agrees the Government should defund the 73 schools that refuse to take part in immunisation programmes.

"Schools are meant to be a site where we see leadership and sound decisions being made. If there's a decision where HPV vaccination isn't supported by a school, I'd say that should be reflected in what funding they get."