Taranaki DHB says MMR vaccine is safe and protects children from serious illness

7 June 2017

Becky Jenkins, GM Planning, Funding and Population Health said on behalf of the DHB:

As the major health provider in Taranaki, Taranaki DHB advocates strongly that immunisation is the most effective and safest way to actively protect our entire population from vaccine preventable diseases, such as whooping cough, tetanus and measles.  We provide health advice based on research and science and by doing this, people should have the confidence to trust the information we give them to help them make an informed decision.

Substantial research and evidence shows there are greater risks to a child’s life if they catch a vaccine preventable disease compared to the risks of getting vaccinated. Measles is a highly infectious and serious disease.  Complications are common with measles and about 1 in 10 people will need hospital treatment. In 1991, New Zealand’s immunisation coverage rate of measles at aged two years was less than 60%. The most recent measles epidemics have occurred in 1991 and the number of cases was estimated to be in the tens of thousands. Also in 1997 with 2,169 cases identified. Smaller outbreaks have occurred in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2016 (The Ministry of Health Immunisation Handbook 2017). 

All vaccines approved for use in New Zealand have a good safety record and have ongoing safety monitoring. The MMR vaccine is an extremely safe and effective vaccine that protects children and our community from serious illness. The Taranaki community can also be assured that our health professionals have access to the best up to date evidence to support the safe administration of vaccines.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre has confirmed there is no scientific basis to the claims made by the film Vaxxed.  


As a qualified Doctor and current Medical Officer of Health at Taranaki DHB, Dr Jonathan Jarman shares his views on immunisation:

It is hard for young parents to understand how much vaccinations have changed the world for the better.  I was born in 1957 shortly after the last polio outbreak in New Zealand.  Polio was the most feared infectious disease of the first half of last century.  Ask anyone who was around at that time.  Outbreaks were getting worse – until vaccinations were introduced in 1956 and then in 1961.  New Zealand has been free of polio now for over 50 years.

As a public health doctor I get to follow up people with diseases that are preventable by vaccination.  I remember one young mum in the Bay of Plenty whose twins caught whooping cough at the age of 6 weeks.  They had been too young to be vaccinated.   Whooping cough at this age is really scary.  Babies so young  cough and cough, then stop breathing and turn blue.  I told the young mum that one of the names for whooping cough was “the cough of 100 days”.  She gave me an exhausted look and said “no, it should be called the cough of 100 nights”.  Whooping cough is worse at night time. A recent study of deaths caused by whooping cough in New Zealand showed that there were eight deaths between 2002 and 2014. Almost all were infants aged less than 3 months. This is why we advise pregnant mothers to get immunised each pregnancy so to protect themselves, their unborn baby and then their newborn baby.

When I worked in Northland there was an outbreak of measles in an unvaccinated community.  There were 32 cases and two children were admitted to hospital.  There was also a lot of meningococcal disease which is a truly awful disease where some children can end up with skin grafts, amputations, brain damage or even death.  I was personally involved in the follow up of over 330 cases of meningococcal disease including 12 deaths.  New Zealand developed a special vaccine and meningococcal disease greatly declined after the MeNZ B vaccination campaign during the mid 2000s.

So what do I think about vaccination?  As someone who has seen the harm that these diseases cause in unvaccinated people, it’s a no brainer really.  



For more information please call:

Cressida Gates-Thompson
Media and Communications Manager
027 703 6177


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