hich was just a week after he had given some unflattering comments on the anti-vaccination group CVA.
On Thursday, Mr Deyalsingh told reporters in South Canterbury: “It has always been a very open and transparent government and ministry where there has been a very honest and open debate on all these issues of public health, but we believe it is time to move on to the future.” Mr Deyalsingh was talking after the minister had made it public that he hoped the Government’s next Government could implement some form of compulsory vaccination, on the basis of that study, but didn’t want it mandatory. “We’ve held our nose and accepted where I believe that’s going to go,” Mr Deyalsingh said. “We have always been fully aware that there are areas not in agreement with that and we’ve been very proud of our stance. And if we go for compulsory I think people in the community will hold us as out of touch.”
Ms Gillard said the government had been open with the public and had had a debate on all these issues. He then pointed to some areas where there were some areas where it was not possible for there to be a universal vaccination program. “And, therefore, we can’t just be forced to have that and leave the rest of our population behind [by forcing] voluntary vaccination,” he said. “So that’s why I think it’s important that the community comes forward to get behind vaccination and help make it happen, if we don’t want our child to get the virus at all.
“I’ve got a kid going into college in the morning, a kid who likes to go for a bike ride, who loves to play football, who’s been working since he was nine, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be willing to make this program happen.” Ms Gillard also conceded there was a “dramatic difference” to the situation in other parts of the world where the vaccination rate was higher and was being driven by the private sector, but said she had no plans to increase the exemption rates for school leavers. Ms Gillard was also asked about reports that former ACT prime minister, Jenny Hewson, was to be recalled as Australia’s top health envoy in her post outside of the Health Department. The Opposition Leader also called for a fresh look at the ACT’s vaccination program which he said was showing encouraging results. He described it as a “miracle” that the national vaccination rate was still at 72 percent. Mr Deyalsingh also praised the efforts of National Health director, Professor Robert Hart, who spearheaded the national vaccination drive to end the 2009 pandemic and praised the way he worked with a range to implement the vaccine, including government, state and local government health, and the ACT’s medical council. On Sunday, he told the ABC he did not want to come out and say a new study had been confirmed and it was just speculation. As he left a news conference on Friday, Mr Deyalsingh spoke of his “shock” at the outcome of the inquiry into National’s handling of the flu vaccine, but he declined to reveal whether he personally had any role in those emails. He made clear he hadn’t read them at all. “No, I don’t think so,” Mr Deyalsingh said.
But the Australian reported that the study had been backed by Dr Gopeesingh in a written submission to the inquiry, a position which the Australian quoted its source as saying was “very close to the view of the minister”. And, according to the AFR, in another letter which came in late last week, Dr Gopeesingh told the Health Department to “hold your breath” about a “huge new review of the effectiveness of the Vaccination Program, undertaken by your department and by Dr Tim Gopeesingh” but he did not elaborate. On Sunday, the ACT government said its “current flu vaccine is having an impact on the number of deaths from influenza in Australia”. Its Health Minister, Paul Fletcher, said yesterday that while the current schedule had not been rolled out universally across the country, vaccines were now being delivered in every school zone. Vaccinated children were being monitored closely and school-based clinics had seen a significant drop in people choosing to stay home. “It doesn’t seem to be a problem at all - I hope it doesn’t sound like a crisis, but a small one,” Mr Fletcher said.
Earlier that day, Ms Gillard said the Government was “absolutely not” opposed to a compulsory vaccination scheme. She was speaking on a press boat at the start of a tour of New Zealand, Australia and Scotland. “We’ve obviously had some very difficult conversations where things have been tough; there have been some very tough issues, and I think that we would all like to get on,” she told reporters after arriving in Auckland. “I can confirm that it has not meant a mass compulsory vaccination. We cannot afford to be seen to be