24 May 2017

'Harmful' groups blamed for drop in immunisation

8:28 pm on 24 May 2017

A prominent Northland doctor says the rise of anti-immunisation sentiment has caused a 5 percent reduction in children in the area being vaccinated.

Dr Lance O'Sullivan attended the Kaitaia screening of the film Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe on Monday and attacked the film's content, taking to the stage and lecturing the crowd.

The film alleges a cover-up of the claimed link between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism.

While the claim has been widely discredited, Dr O'Sullivan told Checkpoint With John Campbell that he saw families who refused to immunise their children "all the time".

Dr O'Sullivan said the reduction could be attributed to the anti-immunisation movement.

"I do suspect that these groups - these harmful groups - that are out there promoting these falsehoods are a part of that.

"I've literally cradled the body of a child doing it's very best to die. We are trying to save a child's life, we put it on a helicopter, it flies to Starship Hospital. The kidneys are failing, its heart's failing, its lungs are failing. All because we didn't put a bloody $7.50 meningococcal vaccine into that child's thigh."

He said this was infuriating.

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Dr Lance O'Sullivan Photo: RNZ

"That incenses me, that we would have people trying to come into the town I live and serve and work in on my watch trying to drive those gaps wider," Dr O'Sullivan said.

He said, since his public display supporting immunisation, he had received personal attacks through social media.

"I had someone on Facebook make a comment about my son's very very severe medical condition and make very hurtful comments about that. And saying a very flippant comment about, 'Oh if he had a vaccine what would have happened?'"

Dr O'Sullivan said if there was a greater reduction in immunisation then deaths that occurred from vaccine-preventable diseases could further be attributed to the movement.

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