IS IT just me or does everyone think anti-vaxxers will quickly find themselves on the wrong side of history?
The Sunshine Coast is an anti-vaccination hotspot. Nearly 12% of children who live in Maroochydore and the hinterland haven’t been immunised.
That’s just below herd immunity.
In Australia there have been 92 confirmed cases of measles so far this year, compared with 103 for the whole of 2018 and 81 for the whole of 2017.
Just five years ago, Australia was declared measles-free.
The number of measles cases in the United States has reached a 25-year peak.
695 cases had been reported since January, most in New York, making it the nation’s worst year for measles since 1994, with eight months still to go.
Vaccines work. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths every year worldwide.
The WHO tells us measles is still a leading cause of death among children in developing countries, with approximately 132 000 dying of the disease in 2015. Most under the age of five.
Australians resist being told what to do and anyone with a computer can find a community to support a dissenting theory.
But disease isn’t a theory and vaccinations are one of the greatest triumphs of modern science.
Immunisation has made previously lethal illness disappear from society. It’s only fault perhaps is that it is too effective. Our collective memory is too short and people who have never seen a child struck down by polio or killed by tuberculosis just don’t appreciate the risk.
According to US National Academy of Science, vaccination of US children born during 1994–2013 is estimated to have prevented 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalisations and 732,000 deaths during their lifetimes.
In Australia, vaccines are largely free and unlike the drugs we take when something goes wrong, usually last a lifetime. The government pays for immunisation because it is better value than putting kids in hospital with IV drips and round the clock care, not to mention decades of treating complications like blindness.
That’s not a great profit strategy for Big Pharma. If they were really serious about making money, they’d do better to bring back cholera.
I totally understand a parent’s fear of giving their child an injection. We are hard wired not to hurt our kids and if we sense risk we avoid it. And let’s be honest, because we live in Australia anti-vaxxers know that in the unlikely event their child gets sick, medical science will take care of it.
It’s breathtaking privilege, isn’t it? In the third world families are clamouring for vaccines to keep their fragile children alive, in the first world we turn our backs because, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’
If immunisation rates continue to fall, I guess we’ll find out.