Prioritisation of COVID Vaccinations for Vulnerable Families

An Open Letter to Rt. Honourable Jacinda Ardern

04/03/2021

Kia Ora Rt. Honourable Jacinda Ardern,

As the largest charitable funder of child health research in New Zealand, Cure Kids urges the Government to prioritise our most vulnerable children for the COVID-19 vaccine.

40,000 children per year are admitted to New Zealand hospitals for completely preventable health issues and this vulnerability means these children are more susceptible to the impact of COVID-19.

Our recent State of Child Health Report launched in Parliament on December 1st, 2020 evidenced that around 35% of acute admissions to hospital for children were due to respiratory infections.

The rate of hospitalisation for respiratory conditions reveals a high degree of inequality varying widely for children in different socioeconomic groups.
We have one of the highest rates of childhood skin infections among resource-rich countries.

In 2019, nearly 3000 children were treated in hospital for serious skin infections – a rate of 4.5 hospitalisations per 1000 children for those children under 5 years.

In addition, our Maori and Pacifica children have a 50 – 120 times greater risk of contracting Rheumatic Fever than their European counterparts, and we know from evidence that cramped damp living conditions are a major driver in these statistics.

Not only are these statistics a national disgrace in themselves, but to continue to expose these vulnerable children to further risk of COVID-19 would be negligent.

In 2020 Cure Kids invested $9million in child health research, with a specific focus on health issues driven by inequity. This investment in 2020 includes the $10m investment over 10 years for a multifactorial collective research effort into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease. We can only resolve these issues of inequity by working together, and on this basis Cure Kids implores this Government to avoid exacerbating the risks for our most vulnerable children, by offering priority vaccine access to the families who already experience the greatest health inequalities.

Franceska Banga
Cure Kids Board Chair

Frances Benge
CEO Cure Kids