Why is it, the more outrageous the conspiracy theory, the more people are prepared to believe it?
The moon landing. Shakespeare. Area 51.
The evidence supporting the benefits of vaccinations is overwhelming. The evidence against them is…well, let’s be honest, most of it is made up.
And before you start sending me hate mail, it isn’t to say that some people don’t have a legitimate reason to avoid the jabs, such as a family history of an adverse reaction. But seriously, for the rest of us, is there a legitimate reason to forego this proven (and free) protection for your children? Do you ban, for example, peanuts or gluten in your households because they don’t agree with other members of the community?
In fact, it’s for people like those who legitimately can’t receive their vaccinations that the rest of us need to make sure that we, along with our children, are up to date with the recommended vaccination schedule. It’s not just about protecting our loved ones, but the entire community.
For those of you who don’t know and are interested, a lot of the anti-vaccination arguments I hear are centered on the myth that the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps and rubella) causes autism. This started with a fraudulent report by Andrew Wakefield published in 1998. Not only has the report been fully discredited by other more credible researchers, but Wakefield has been struck off the Medical Register. He was found guilty of medical misconduct in 2010 for having undisclosed conflicts of interest and for manipulating evidence.
The fact is, whatever the cause of autism, it lies elsewhere.
But still people persist. They hear the first hand stories of people whose children are suffering from one thing or another, wrongly attributed to vaccinations, and don’t wish to put their own children in harm’s way. But ironically in choosing not to vaccinate, they are doing exactly that.
Perhaps the reason I’m so ‘for’ vaccinations is that I’ve also heard stories.
When my oldest son was at primary school a young boy in his grade lost his life to meningococcal disease. This young boy was the only son of a couple I knew through work and it was so fast and so final. Back then there wasn’t the option of a meningococcal vaccinations but I can assure you the moment there was, we lined our kids up.
Similarly, Tracey’s Grandma Mac would tell us stories about when she was a young girl and children in her community would suffer, or worse not survive, from these now largely preventable diseases. We’re not talking about a runny nose and a temperature here. She would shudder as she told her stories.
So I guess it all depends on who you listen to: the people who’ve read stuff on the net or heard something about the friend of a friend, or someone who’s lived through the nightmare.
Or maybe we should all just listen to the experts and scientists who’ve actually studied the diseases.
These days we have the marvel, the wondrous miracle, of science giving our children the best chance in the history of mankind to make it to adulthood.
Would you drive your kids around in the car without seatbelts? Why not? Because the statistics show the dangers and you won’t risk injury to your child where it can be so easily prevented. So why would you not vaccinate your child when the statistics show your choice would unnecessarily put them (and let’s not forget the other people in your community, such as newborns, or those unable to vaccinate for legitimate reasons) at risk?
Clearly, from my rhetoric, I believe in vaccinating, on time and in line with the guidelines set down by the people who know, actually know, about these things. I love my kids too much to risk them through hearsay and false reports.
NSW Health has a user friendly and informative webpage providing a wealth of information on vaccinations which I recommend you check out if you’re still in doubt or, quite rightly, wish to check things out for yourself. There’s also a nifty new app available for free “Save the Date”: to help families keep track of their immunisation schedules.
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”