Monday, October 31st, 2011

Opinion: Barry Haase on children’s immunisation

Barry Haase MHR

Barry Haase MHR

Barry Haase is concerned about a group that is organised to discourage parents from immunising their kids.

“Vaccination has all but wiped out a number of childhood illnesses,” he said.

You can read his column here:

Recent reports state the Australian Vaccination Network, an anti-vaccine lobby group; have been holding meetings in Western Australia. I find it illogical that sane parents would pay $15 to hear why they should not save the lives of their children.

For some, obscure to me, reason, this group has a snout on about saving lives. Vaccination has all but wiped out a number of childhood illnesses.

This radical group, based at Bangalow, near, of course, Byron Bay, was stripped of its charity status by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, after health authorities found its information to be biased.

A spokesperson for the group is reported as saying the meetings in WA were aimed at drawing attention to problems with vaccines for whooping cough, amongst others.

It comes as no surprise to me that Denmark in the south, a town of just 5000 have had 45 reported cases of whooping cough this year.

What does come as a surprise is reports that the Mid West, Murchison and Gascoyne regions have a lower than state average of children immunised against whooping cough in WA.

Denmark I can understand, hippies, tree huggers and those wanting to take a stand against ‘the establishment’ at a huge cost to their children’s lives, it is a little harder to fathom the reasoning behind the lack of immunisation in part of my patch, Durack.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection and usually begins with a runny nose, tiredness and sometimes a mild fever. Coughing develops, usually in bouts, followed by a deep gasp or ‘whoop’. This ‘whoop’ can cause small children to stop breathing during coughing fits.

The disease poses the biggest risk when adults or older children pass it on to newborns, who are too young to be fully vaccinated. Whooping cough can be prevented by getting children immunised at two, four and six months of age, followed by booster doses at four years and 12 years of age.

Whooping cough is spread to other people by droplets from coughing or sneezing. Untreated, a person with whooping cough can spread it to other people for up to three weeks after the onset of the cough.

I urge parents to get their children fully immunised, not just against whooping cough. Parents who do not immunise their children are not terribly smart.

If enough people in the community are immunised, the infection can no longer be spread from person to person and the disease dies out altogether. This is how smallpox was eliminated from the world and polio has all but disappeared from many countries.

Immunisation is the safest and most effective way of giving protection against disease and in this case any alternative point of view is dangerous.

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