Concerns educated parents in New Zealand were developing a form of “white flight” over immunisation of children against disease were aired at a Parliamentary select committee today.
“There is growing evidence that children of educated parents are…becoming a significant ‘hard to reach’ population,” the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, told the health committee.
Anti-immunisation fears were “an extraordinarily difficult issue”, but he called for information to be targeted to parents who actively reject vaccinations, with an increased campaign on measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) aimed at parents with degree-level education.
Sir Peter said parents should be shown the relative risks of immunisation, compared with the risks of severe effects from the disease against which children were being protected.
Discussion of immunisation should also be introduced into antenatal education, including the benefits and the risk of immunisation.
British studies had found that children of wealthier, more educated parents were less likely to have received the triple MMR vaccine than the average population, Sir Peter said.
“Uptake of MMR has declined at a greater rate among children of more highly-educated parents, and among those living in more affluent areas.”
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