Education Minister: Let unvaccinated kids go to school

News 08/05/2019

The Minister for Education says unvaccinated kids should go to school, amid reports Northland DHB is asking them to stay away.

Chris Hipkins told The AM Show he believes kids shouldn't be kept away because of the choices of their parents.

"I don't think that schools should be excluding students because their parents make bad decisions, I think that those parents should get their kids vaccinated."

But he did have some advice for how schools handle the problem.

"Ultimately I think kids should be attending school and I think the best message that schools can send to the parents is that they should be getting their kids vaccinated."

The Northland DHB told Newshub it has requested schools consider asking students who were unvaccinated to stay away from school for at least the next two weeks.

Northland's vaccination rate is the lowest in the country, sitting at around 85 percent. It has been targeted recently by anti-vaccination campaigners.

"We had [an anti-vaccination] movie which was shown early last year and was targeting Northland in a big way - it started off in Northland and it was shown many, many times throughout Northland," DHB head, Nick Chamberlain told RNZ.

According to Dr Chamberlain, one low-decile school in Northland has more than 200 unimmunised children.

Hipkins' call to let the unvaccinated kids stay in school did not sit well with The AM Show sportsreader Mark Richardson, who called Hipkins comments "idealistic mumbo jumbo".

"You've got these parents who are not going to immunise their children, and so he's saying that these children should therefore still be allowed attend school and not only be at harm themselves... or potentially infect others."

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Katie Fitzgerald