In this article we examine informed choice on immunisation for parents in New Zealand.

The government / health professionals’ view of immunisationThe alternative view on immunisationInformed choice on immunisationUseful immunisation websites and articles

Informed choice is something we do every day. We all make health choices all the time – we take them for granted and we rarely stew over them:

  • What should we eat?
  • Should we join the gym?
  • Will the headache go away if I rest, or should I take some paracetamol?

But how much more seriously we take it when making those decisions for another person; a very little person that we care about deeply!

Our midwives and childbirth educators may mention immunisation during pregnancy – but who can think about that with the hurdle of the birth still ahead?

However, it soon becomes very real when asked for a decision about our child’s first routine immunisation at 6 weeks – and it can be like opening a can of worms…

There are some very strong feelings out there: people who passionately believe that parents should all have their children immunised and those who believe, equally passionately, in letting immunity develop by getting the infection naturally.

Well, when you get to decision time, there are two options you can choose from:

The government / health professionals’ view of immunisation

The Ministry of Health for New Zealand states that:

The Government’s commitment to immunisation is based on sound evidence. The national and international scientific consensus is that immunisation is one of the most cost effective means of preventing disease and improving health, and that risks associated with vaccines are rare.

Health professionals believe that whilst good housing, breastfeeding, a healthy diet and lifestyle choices may help reduce the risk of disease, it does not give you immunity against diseases. They advise that the best protection is to have your children immunised against these diseases.

The alternative view on immunisation

By contrast, some parents want their child to develop immunity from experiencing the infection, rather than receive the recommended immunisation schedule.

These parents are supported in their views by some Natural Health Practitioners who take a ‘holistic, natural approach to health and well-being’.

The government maintains that all parents should make their own informed decision about immunisation for their family. For this reason the immunisation programme is not compulsory.

Useful immunisation websites and articles

To read more about immunisation, read our series of Kiwi Families articles:

Where to get immunised gives you information on how to obtain immunisation for your child.

Immunisation schedule provides an overview of the different immunisation visits, and what vaccines are given at each.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre has a section relating to informed decisons:

http://www.immune.org.nz/making-informed-decision-0

For further advice on immunisation visit the official government website.

www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation

Alternatively, you can speak to your GP, Plunket nurse or practice nurse.

www.immune.org.nz

Website of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) at the University of Auckland, providing independent, factual information, including benefits and risks, based on international and New Zealand medical research. You can call and speak to a registered nurse immunisation specialist on 0800 466 863.

 

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Paula Skelton is a qualified NZ nurse and midwife, a midwifery & childbirth educator and the mum of three lovely girls.

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