Jacinda Ardern is ruling out benefit cuts for New Zealanders who do not vaccinate their children, despite promising results in Australia.
The Prime Minister confirmed on Tuesday she would not consider introducing legislation similar to Australia’s “no jab, no pay” policy announced by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2015.
The Australian Federal Government imposed immunisation requirements for access to payments under the family tax benefit scheme, effectively punishing those who refuse vaccinations.
I like how we immediately knee-jerk some bullshit criminalisation regime whenever something happens, it’s like Kiwis are preprogrammed to scream, ‘why not punish them’ whenever any problem unfolds as if the punishment, threats of punishment and screaming about punishment will magically make the problem disappear.
I can’t work out if it’s our juvenile culture, click bait mainstream media or the naked burning rage that resides deep inside white settler nation NZ that constantly wants to lash out at anything and anyone after 3 beers.
Threatening people with punishment for not vaccinating requires a state that will literally force its citizens to take injections, it’s hilarious that those who would cry nanny state first would cheer this second.
I think Kiwis just love to beat up on those more vulnerable than they perceive themselves to be without ever appreciating the irony of that.
Let’s be clear on one thing, our measles epidemic should be a National embarrassment. We have had as many measles cases as America does in a year, this is a humiliation of our public health system and an abject failure of the news media. It’s also a convergence of ignorance, middle class cancer privilege and poverty. Simply threatening beneficiaries with not paying welfare is a solution that could possibly make the whole situation worse.
Quarter of those who don’t vaccinate do so because of Anti-vaxx quack science. In a post-knowledge world, people no longer learn critical thought and peer reviewed structures to ensure scientific rigour, they just google it and hey presto some emotive Youtube clip trumps actual facts and social media’s hysteria algorithms do the rest. Watching the anti-vaxxers desperately trying to excuse their ignorance with nit picking nonsense to prove their ludicrous assertions of links to autism and profit driven Pharmaceutical companies peddling death in a needle would be funny if the results weren’t so dangerous. The real twist is that many anti-vaxxers are middle class yoga mums who are the first to take the health high ground on any other issue. It is difficult not to feel anything other than contempt for this group, but we must remember they are the minority issue here.
Middle class cancer privilege
Labour pumped $60m into a new cancer programme because white middle class boomers who have the wealth to live healthy lives are consumed with avoiding cancer as much as they are with property renovations and school zoning issues. Disease that impacts the young, the poor and the brown don’t get jack shit because the young, the poor and the brown don’t vote like middle class boomers do. Measles like other poverty diseases simply don’t get the resources it deserves because the people it damages the most have the weakest voices to demand better health outcomes.
The real issue here is poverty. 3/4 of those who don’t vaccinate come from poor communities and the ability to get immunisation is impacted by that poverty. It is the nature of this deep poverty and inequality that permeates throughout NZ that is the ultimate problem here, not hipster mummy bloggers. When you consider that we have 200 000 children living in poverty, the low rate of immunisation can’t be a surprise to anyone can it?
Underfunded health system
Ultimately the solution lies in our under funded health system. National obliterated Labour’s Health Boards and replaced them with 21 DHBs who have been underfunded ever since…
A budget blow-out across District Health Boards has grown by a staggering $112 million, or 36 per cent, in a single month to more than double what it was the same time last year.
All but one of the country’s 20 DHBs were in the red for the 11 months to May, with their total deficit rising to $423 million, latest financial results from the Ministry of Health show.
At the same time in May 2018, the deficit was $204 million.
It’s now expected the total deficit by year end, in June, will be $508 million – compared with Treasury and Ministry forecasts of $390 million just months ago.
…the most recent report highlights how fractured public health has now become for the most vulnerable amongst us…
New Zealand’s health and disability system is described by a review as “complicated and very fragmented”, with “leadership lacking at all levels”.
The Health and Disability System Review Panel released its interim report on Tuesday, highlighting several key areas preventing access to the sector’s services.
Māori have “not been served well by the system”, the review found, while rural communities are facing “particular challenges and need solutions designed specifically for them”.
…if we are not prepared to fully fund a public health system so that the health of the people is served equally and respectfully, then how can we be surprised when epidemics like this break out?
Underfunded media industry
Finally this epidemic is the fault of the underfunded media industry. Mainstream media take money from large pharmaceutical companies to focus on attacking Pharmac so their latest expensive cancer drug campaign can pressure the Government into funding it. What the media don’t do is dismantle anti-vaxxer conspiracies which in turn allows the spread of disinformation on social media.
If we want to stop this measles epidemic, we need to acknowledge the impact of poverty in preventing immunisations, so free jabs need to be expanded via pop up vaccination booths in areas those communities congregate rather than just expecting those communities to come to them.
We need a far better funded public health service more focused on spending the health budget for the benefit of everyone, not just middle class boomers.
We need a media who are far more proactive in challenging conspiracies and debunking them rather than ignoring them or glossing over them because the journalist is only good at sourcing news stories from their twitter feed.