Expert explains why making MMR vaccine compulsory might not be a good idea

An expert on immunisation says making vaccinations compulsory in New Zealand may not be a good idea.

Immunisation Advisory Centre director Dr Nikki Turner told The Project that, in fact, there's plenty of evidence that voluntary vaccinations for the general public are the best way to control infectious diseases like mumps, measles and rubella. 

"The data would show that countries that have it compulsory... a lot of them get lower coverage than us [in New Zealand]," Dr Turner said.

Indeed, a study carried out between 2007 and 2013 across Europe found no link between compulsory vaccination and childhood immunisation rates.

"People get pissed off being told what to do, and if there's a better way of doing it, with a really good system, with our people understanding and actually believing what we're talking about, then actually at this point we do not need compulsion," Dr Turner continued.

"We've seen in the last week New Zealand respond and say, 'Yeah, okay, we understand the issue, we understand loads of us have missed out - let's get the vaccine'.

"If we can manage it that way, I think it's a more mature response in a country."

New Zealand's policy of voluntary vaccination against measles and rubella has been a highly effective one.

Measles used to kill several hundred people a year, according to Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. More than 500 died in 1893.

In 2017, New Zealand was actually praised by the World Health Organisation for officially eliminating endemic forms of the diseases, meaning no case had originated in the country for three straight years.