Meningococcal Vaccination Campaign Starts Derailing
Ron Law & Barbara Sumner Burstyn
"The Minister of Health has confirmed that none of the five deaths acknowledged as being due to meningococcal disease so far this year could have been prevented by the MeNZB(tm) vaccination programme," say risk & policy analyst Ron Law, and writer/researcher Barbara Sumner Burstyn.
In answer to MP Sue Kedgley's parliamentary question 06029 (2005): How many deaths have there been due to Meningococcal Disease so far this year and how many of them could have been prevented by the current MeNZB(tm) vaccination programme? The Minister claimed that saving lives was a "narrow focus" of the MeNZB(tm) vaccination program.
We find this an absurd statement for two reasons.
Firstly, the Ministry of Health has been using wildly exaggerated deaths rates to create unnecessary fear as they tried to justify the mass experiment of injecting an entire sub-population of 1.15 million otherwise healthy children with 3.5 million doses of the unproven MeNZB(tm) vaccine.
Secondly, the three deaths caused by the epidemic strain of meningococcal disease so far this year have all been in New Zealanders denied access to the MeNZB(tm) vaccine, and the two under 20 year olds, one of whom was fully 'protected' by the MeNZB(tm) vaccine have died of Meningococcal C.
To date the five deaths reported have been:
in Jan 2005 two deaths
One death in Counties Manukau, 5 year old female [fully vaccinated with MeNZB(tm)] died of Meningococcal C
One in Canterbury, 30-39 years Male died of epidemic strain
in Feb 2005 one death in Canterbury, 50-59 years Female died of epidemic strain
in April 2005 two deaths
One death in Mid Central, unvaccinated 8 month old male died from meningococcal C
One death in Counties Manukau, 40-49 year old male died from epidemic strain
None of these deaths could have been prevented by the MeNZB(tm) vaccination program.
The 5 year old girl in Counties Manukau may well have died as a direct result of complacency created by health care professionals knowing that she was vaccinated, and therefore believing that she was protected from meningococcal disease and therefore failing to consider meningococcal disease as a diagnosis and therefore failing to administer life saving antibiotics in both the ambulance and at the hospital.
"We believe that this case should have been referred to a coroner for a fully inquiry," says Barbara Sumner Burstyn
"The little girl may still be alive but for medical error," says Ron Law, who was a member of the Ministry of Health's expert working group that advised it on the reporting and management of medical error. "This appears to be a clear cut case of medical error that may well have contributed to the girls death. Circumstances such as this require a formal coronial inquiry."
We are also concerned about the Ministry of Health's continued falsification of meningococcal disease rates. It may be sloppy science, or deliberate falsification; we believe it is likely to be the latter given the fact that we have raised this before and the Ministry has not corrected its error.
Statistics New Zealand have estimated the NZ population at the end of 2004 as being 4,060,000 ...
During the past 12 months there have been 334 cases of meningococcal disease notified, and the Ministry of Health and ESR claim that to equate to a case rate of 9.0 per 100,000 people.
Let's do some basic math.
334 cases divided by 4,060,000 times 100,000 = 8.2 cases per 100,000, not 9.0 as claimed in official MOH/ESR documents.
A case rate of 9.0 per 100,000 equates to a population for New Zealand of 3,710,000
According to the Stats department, the population in New Zealand was at that
level 9 years ago in mid 1996.
We propose a question for the media and politicians alike to ask the Ministry of Health.
"Why is the Ministry of Health falsifying meningococcal disease data by using decade old population data in calculating cases per 100,000? Is it to provide inflate figures for their campaign-of-fear so that figures look worse than they actually are?"
In her response to PQ 06029 (2005): the Minister said, "The goal of the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme goes beyond the narrow focus of saving lives; it is also about stopping people contracting the epidemic strain of group B meningococcal disease and being left with life-long disability."
The following graph shows that the MeNZB(tm) vaccination program appears to be having no noticeable impact to date on the decline of meningococcal disease rates in Counties Manukau... if anything, the decline appears to have slowed up, rather than increase as would be expected.
The decline was well advanced before the MeNZB(tm) campaign began and we find it anathema to good science for the Ministry of Health to be claiming that the MeNZB(tm) program was a contributing factor to the 10 - 13 year lows in cases and deaths due to meningococcal disease in 2004.
If the MeNZB(tm) vaccination program couldn't have prevented the five deaths to date in 2005, and has made no measurable impact on disease rates in Counties Manukau, then we ask the question, "why continue to expose 1.15 million otherwise healthy children to an experimental drug with no evidence of efficacy, and that is creating complacency to the point that children are being denied life-saving treatment?"
[Note: Barbara Sumner Burstyn spoke about the Meningococcal B Vaccine in Wellington on Thursday 19th May]