"Turia sets dangerous example" was the headline for a letter by Anna Hardy RN, on behalf of the Stewart St Surgery Team at Marton. (Herald on Sunday, July 17, 2005 page 36) The surgery was in an uproar because Tariana Turia, a former Associate Health Minister, decided against giving her granchildren, then aged 3 and 5, the MeNZB vaccine.
Nurse Hardy railed, "Her indignant public stand against the vaccination programme is nothing short of spurious..." and continues explaining how dedicated they are to encouraging and delivering protection for these children, and asks how this is possible "if their role model Tariana blatantly slams the idea? The vaccination is our best and only form of protection against this deadly disease." (Which isn't true, but that's not an issue to discuss in this post.)
Some of Tariana's colleagues were also scathing, with Annette King, then the Health Minister, saying, "I'm incredibly disappointed because she was my Associate Minister of Health when the decisions were made."
Given the events of the last few weeks, it would seem that Tariana Turia had more brains than those who believed the medical profession's spurious assertions that protection from the MeNZB would last years, rather than a few months. Everything Tariana said at the time, was true.
But the real issue here is the "right" of a politician to be true to their beliefs without being called "unfit for office" or "a bad role model" in the process. Why must politicians subsume their souls by being moulded to the conformity and dogma demanded by the system? Are they there to serve the system, or to stand up for the democratic rights of everyone, including themselves?
This issue recently reared it's ugly head in Ireland, where a Green Party politician supported the right of parents to not vaccinate their children. Patricia McKenna had taken part in a television debate on vaccination in 2006 during which she stated that she had refused to have her own children vaccinated.
The howls came thick and fast and haven't stopped. An opinion piece recently excoriated her, yet again, for her public stand. Ruariri Hanley who chose not to state that he was a doctor, said that her views were, "irrational and dangerous" and as such, she was "unfit for office".
The doctor then proclaimed that, "The time has come for a more vigorous approach. I believe that the government should insist that all parents produce a full up-to-date vaccination certificate to claim children's benefit payments. This policy has been successfully used in other European countries and will ultimately save lives."
Apart from the fact that such tactics are blatant coercion and bribery, I think it's time for a large study comparing the health of children of parents who have actively chosen NOT to give their children any vaccines, with the health of children who have received everything in the current vaccine schedule.
I believe that we would find that the doctor's comments above are untrue. I believe we would find that children of parents who actively chose not to vaccinate, would be found to be healthier and made far fewer demands on the taxpayer's dollars which fund doctors' subsidies, because they have far fewer acute or chronic illnesses than fully vaccinated children.
And if those findings were verified, then the whole benefit/risk equation takes on a totally new perspective. But right now, people like Ruairi Hanley get away with spouting assumptions because the scientifically appropriate studies on that topic have never been done, probably for the same reason as proper studies on the MeNZB vaccine were never done.
Had appropriate duration of immunity from MeNZB studies been done with the results published before the scaremongering campaign started, its likely that a lot of people would have looked at the facts, and made the same choice as Turiana Turia.