In this summer podcast series, each week the New Zealand Herald and Newstalk ZB's Go to Health podcast will look at a different health issue. Today, it's the facts about vaccines, and why they're a medical miracle. Hosted by Frances Cook.

Personal choice is a beautiful thing. You should have the freedom to live the life that makes you happiest, even if it seems strange to other people.

But only if you're not hurting anyone else.

This is exactly the problem with the so-called "vaccination debate".


I'm a fan of vaccines because I'm a fan of facts. And the facts show vaccines are a safe and proven way to stop people suffering and dying from preventable diseases.

Even then, I wouldn't care about people leaving themselves open to these diseases if it was only about them. But there are people who can't be vaccinated, like the very young, very old, or people who have allergies.

If one of these people catches a disease like mumps, it's serious. Mumps leads to meningitis in one in 10 cases.

Or maybe measles. There have been several New Zealand outbreaks of this disease over the past few years, thanks partly to those who refuse vaccinations.

Measles can cause pneumonia, deafness, brain swelling and death.

People who can't be vaccinated rely on the rest of us being getting the jab so they don't die from a totally preventable disease. They don't have a choice.

You don't have the freedom to speed in your car, or drive while you're drunk, because you might hurt other people.

Choosing not to be vaccinated is the same unacceptable risk.

To help clear up the many myths out there, I called Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, director of research at the Immunisation Advisory Centre, and senior lecturer at Auckland University.


We talked about the misinformation that's out there, the truth behind it, and why there are serious consequences for people choosing not to be vaccinated.

For the full interview, listen to the podcast.

Don't forget to subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode. You can find Go to Health on the Apple podcasts app, or I Heart Radio.