Monday 1 November 2010

A sticking point

There's been a lot in the media lately about vaccination, the lack of it in certain areas and the potential of yet another whooping cough epidemic in NSW.

Last week, I took Lil-lil off to get her scheduled four-year-old jabs. Of course, it wasn't the most fun either of us have ever had, but I felt good knowing that I'm doing what I can to protect her – and the community – against disease. I feel grateful to live in a country where these vaccines are not only available but they're free!

If you ever take a cursory glance at parenting forums or websites, you'll be bombarded with scaremongering about why you shouldn't vaccinate your children. I'll admit that this makes my blood boil. When I see Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine rhetoric being promoted by The Oprah Winfrey Show, I get angry (it's actually when I turned off her show for good). The fact that many people would rather believe what a former Playboy model has to say than medical researchers with years of training and experience makes me frustrated. The fact that author Andrew Wakefield (who wrote the piece linking the MMR vaccines and autism) has been not only widely discredited, but has also been found guilty of serious professional misconduct, seems to be constantly ignored baffles me. The fact that people would rather believe information they read on the internet than advice from their doctor staggers me.  I'm not a scientist or a medico. I haven't read reams and reams of scientific research or medical journals, so I'm not equipped to give you the hard facts of why you should vaccinate your family.

I think that we're incredibly lucky, I think that a lot of us are blissfully complacent because we come from a generation that hasn't had to suffer polio or diphtheria. We didn't see the effects these diseases had on children, families, communities, so it's easy not to think about it and consider it something resigned to the history books.

I grew up listening to stories from my great aunt, who was born in 1900, about how when her younger sister was diagnosed with diphtheria her parents travelled from their farm to a distant hospital for treatment. At 12 years of age, she was left to look after her other siblings while their parents were away. Soon after, more of the children developed the disease and she was left to care for them, including having to boil the blankets in an effort to stop further infection.

As a young child I lived in a country where I didn't have access to the MMR vaccine. Subsequently I got measles, at Christmas time. I was incredibly sick and while I only have very vague memories of it, it must have been horrific for my mum to see her small child so ill.

Hearing these kinds of stories and suffering from measles myself, has led me to feel that vaccines are a gift, something to be thankful for. The fact that we live in an age and a country where safe vaccines are available is fantastic. How lucky am I? How lucky are my kids?

It seems absurd to me that some people would see vaccination as some kind of government conspiracy theory. A lot of people were concerned recently when the flu vaccine was withdrawn for young children. People used this as an example that the government and medical bodies weren't regulating vaccines enough. I felt the opposite, the fact that a problem was recognised and swiftly dealt with made me feel that the safety of vaccines was taken seriously.

So, that's why I'll keep taking my kids to the GP to get their jabs when they're scheduled. Of course, it's not a 100% guarantee that they won't get sick, but I believe they will stand a better chance with them.


  1. Well said! People not vaccinating their children makes my blood boil.
    There is a big problem with it here in the UK thanks to Andrew Wakefield and now there is a a massive measles outbreak. Do people not realise how serious something like measles is?? At the very least it will make your child very ill at the very worst it can even kill. How can anyone take that chance with their precious baby?
    We are beyond lucky to have access to vaccination and in my personal opinion it is negligent to not do so.

  2. I agree.
    I feel that people here in the US abuse antibiotics, but as for vaccines...completely necessary.
    Ummm, and question for you miss...I was over in Maxabella world and you commented that you lived in the US as a child????
    Inquiring minds would love to know!

  3. Great post! I agree, and another point was that many of the authors of that paper later retracted their conclusions. It certainly has done alot of damage for sure.

    Even chickenpox I have heard some parents would rather expose their children directly to it than get the vaccine, when one or two kids die from it in this country every year. I don't understand why people would take the risk of any dreadful disease by non vaccination over a non verified and unproven 'risk' of another condition that is, while devastating, not fatal. That is not for one second to minimise what autism is and does to families. I just don't believe there is a link.

  4. Great post hun.

    I completely agree. It's scary to think so many parents and carers don't believe in immunisation.

    Yes, there will always be a tale of a child who reacted badly but that is life. Adults have reactions with immunisations too. People just don't complain about it as much. There is always someone who will have a reaction but the general population, immunisations are the way to go.

    And yes, it's hard watching your little one cry as they get jabbed, but you think of the alternative and know that a little sting and cry for a minute is much better than actually getting sick further down the track.

  5. Watch the other side come out in attack here very very soon.

    Weel done, good luck.

  6. I agree with you my oldest daughter whose 23 years old got all her neddles as small girl including the Rubella one in her teens.

    (((( Hugs ))))

  7. Totally with you. It is so easy to become complacent when you haven't seen people ravaged by what are often thought of as 'simple childhood illnesses'. Bravo for your post!

  8. I came here from Maxabella. I completely agree with you. We have forgotten how hard life was 100 years ago. I notice the governments (Cth and State) here are very clever with immunisation (hence the conspiracy theory maybe!!!) ie they make you prove your children have it before you can get into childcare etc. Even my 7 year old has to show she has had all her vaccs. That is the way to make people comply. They couldn't do that in the US, it would be too much 'interference' with their rights.

  9. Completely agree with you, Corinne. It makes me angry too. Sure you might be lucky that your child isn't vaccintated and doesn't get diptheria... but it's only because vacinations wiped out this dreadful disease! This is something we do for the good of society. It makes me sad to know that some diseases thought gone are now making their way back... polio anyone!? x

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