3 June 2014

On the subject of immunisation

Please note: I'm passionately pro-vaccination and if that is likely to offend you - please don't continue reading - I'm not going to argue with people on this one, it is an opinion piece.  

See, the subject of immunisation is a bit thorny in my circle and for that reason I don't talk about it much. But recent coverage of some anti-vaxxer bollocks has me fired up about it all again. 

Fourteen years ago I was privileged enough to personally engage with women from a number of third world countries in the Asia-Pacific region who were doing things like getting their fathers to donate their dowries to vaccinate their villages, even if it meant ending up 'on the shelf' because they were so passionate about improving their lives of their communities.  They were also seeking to prevent honour killings, eliminate child marriage, have education for all children mandatory and other 'small things' like that, but we can discuss those topics another day.

In addition, as somebody who has travelled a bit, including to a number of third world countries, I have seen the effects on individuals and communities of vaccine-preventable diseases. 

So the continued scaremongering of (publicly named and shamed) anti-vaxxers when pretty much every theory opposing immunisation has been systematically destroyed by every single proper scientific investigation into it right across the world is frustrating.  This article last week had me almost inarticulate with rage that people still peddle bullshit to people seeking to understand how vaccines work.

And I am dumbfounded by the 'natural health' communities that continue to endorse the bullshit by inviting these people to speak at their conferences and forums. 

Here is my view.  Choosing not to vaccinate your children is a first world arrogance which is only afforded to you as an option because mostly everybody else does it in your safe, first world community. Thus, by and large, affording you and your family herd immunity.

You have this luxury because everybody has been immunising their children for many years and we have eradicated a number of diseases which crippled and killed an enormous amount of people only two to three generations ago and which continues to cripple and kill children and adults across the world right now.

Those that can not afford vaccines re generally surrounded by other people that can not afford vaccines and thus are not afforded the luxury of herd immunity.  And so they die.  Or they live with the impact of the disease once it has savaged them and their communities. Which is why the likes of Bill Gates is busy paying for people to be immunised, because he has lots of money and it is not actually very expensive. 

Living in Australia and other well protected, well immunised first world communities, does not make any of your google based research right and the scientific and medical professionals wrong.  There are isolated cases where immunisation hasn't worked out so well, and for those families I feel immense sorrow. 

However, if I was to use the 'my child might die or be injured if....' as a reason not to do something I would not use seat-belts in the car because occasionally children are strangled during accidents by the very equipment that is in the car to protect them; I would not allow them to eat food because occasionally children choke even with their parents right there in the room with them; I would not allow them play in playgrounds because occasionally children end up injured falling from equipment. With me?

If we were able to prevent these diseases through the use of herbs and following Meryl's advice, we would be.  There is no big-pharma-money-making-at-the-expense-of- lives conspiracy on this one people - not every bit of progress results in an Erin Brockovich type tale.  The fact is vaccines at the very least prevent disability and infertility, and at the very most save lives.

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And where are deaths of vaccine-preventable diseases on the rise in Australia?  Where are children too young to be immunised most likely to be exposed to these diseases?  Pockets of suburbs full of well educated, wealthy, pre-dominantly white families who reckon 'natural' is better. True. 

Here's a friendly little fact about immunisation for you. Vaccines are completely synthetic now meaning nobody has to use 'natural' strains of the disease in the making of them thus reducing the likelihood of individual reactions even further.  There is natural and then there is natural.  

To those that want to know about the pros and cons of immunisations or individual vaccines - speak to qualified health professionals.  Lots of them if you want to make extra sure.  But for the love of Fatty Arbuckle, do not get your facts from the internet or anybody that is NOT qualified to give you facts.

And that includes pretty much anybody in your parents group, your school pick up circle, your tennis team, your trivia circle or a Facebook group called 'XXXX XXXX mums'.  

Please. 

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