Ministry of Health slammed for communication on vaccinations

The AM Show 26/07/2018

Dr Lance O'Sullivan has launched a blistering attack on the Ministry of Health over their communication procedures.

Two children in Samoa died shortly after receiving the MMR vaccination earlier in July, but authorities here say it is still too soon to say what caused it and vaccinations are safe.

Dr O'Sullivan says the response isn't good enough and there needs to be more done to placate the public.

"There's a lack of leadership in the communication from our Ministry really to make sure that this message is given [to people]," he told The AM Show.

He said after speaking to colleagues he realised there wasn't much being done to communicate to parents after a very serious event.

"I've been talking to colleagues about it and they've been pretty absent to be honest, this is a real sentinel event in terms of the confidence in immunisations and they should be out there," he said.

The Ministry of Health put out a statement after the deaths explaining the difference between New Zealand and Samoa's vaccination programmes.

It said the MMR vaccine had an excellent safety track record in New Zealand.

"Hundreds of thousands of children have had the vaccine in the Pacific without issue, and millions more in New Zealand and worldwide," it said.

"Deaths following MMR vaccination are exceptionally rare, and similar events overseas have been a result of administration errors rather than a problem with the vaccine itself."

But Dr O'Sullivan wants to see the leadership involved.

"They need to roll out all their big guns and their Pacific health leads to say: 'hey look vaccinations are still safe and we need to encourage you all to get your children vaccinated'," he said.

The Ministry of Health has been contacted for comment.

Watch the full panel with Dr Lance O'Sullivan and Matthew Donnellan above.

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