September 17, 2021
Immunisation failures put children at risk
While the nation’s focus is on Covid-19 vaccinations, a Māori paediatrician is warning New Zealand’s immunisation system has failed and needs to be remade from the bottom up.
In today’s New Zealand Medical Journal Dr Owen Sinclair, one of seven Māori paediatricians in the country, and Professor Cameron Grant, the head of the University of Auckland’s department of child and youth health, argue that a long decline in childhood immunisation rates is leaving New Zealand children vulnerable to epidemics of diseases such as measles and whooping cough.
They say just 54 percent of six-month-old Māori children are up to date with their shots.
For-profit primary health care fails to favour preventative medicine, and disparate organisations lack of coordination.
Dr Sinclair, who works for the Waitematā DHB, says New Zealand is hurtling towards the type of situation that led to Samoa’s devastating measles epidemic.
But he says there was potential to use the system established for Covid-19 vaccinations for a catch-up campaign for childhood immunisations.