I hate getting needles, absolutely hate them. But after four years of a science degree, I understand just how important vaccinations are.
The number of parents shying away from vaccinating their kids has grown rapidly in the last 10 years.
Born in the 90’s, the concept of missing any of the seemingly hundred of vaccinations I endured during my childhood is a very strange one.
So why are parents saying “no thanks” to run of the mill vaccinations such as polio, diphtheria and hepatitis?
Part of the reason is certainly misinformation – many parents doing the right thing and researching vaccinations are being bombarded by information from questionable sources, which to a layman seem just as reliable as any other science based finding.
A typical example is the hilariously named “Australian Vaccination Network” – an anti-vaccination lobby, which was recently ordered to find a new name after claims that their current title was misleading people to believe they provided objective information about vaccination, rather than misquoted, biased and outdated findings.
What’s the Big Fuss?
People raise the same argument for vaccinating their kids and for choosing not to; “Their health and safety is my number one priority.”
The real issue is that while some people trust in the ability of researchers, vaccinologists and medical professionals, others don’t.
It is very rare to hear anyone with a science background claim that vaccines are 100% effective and devoid of side effects – on the contrary, they’ll give you a warning similar to what appears on the back of most over the counter medicines (can cause swelling, nausea and in rare cases death).
For the large majority of cases, the benefit of vaccination is always worth the risk of any side effects, which by the way usually only amount to a sore arm and a slight fever.
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?
In the end, it’s just as personal a choice as whether to send the kids to a private or public school, whether they have a middle name or how many brothers and sisters they have.
But, I still see a need for parents to be properly educated by the relevant people, including your GP, bodies such as the World Heath Organisation and even, if you’re interested, the latest scientific journals.
While some will argue that excluding anti-vaccination groups from the picture makes it a one sided battle, I believe that they can’t possibly be part of the discussion if what they’re bringing to the table is not backed up with evidence based science.
And if you’re still trying to decide, let me end with this; I’ve had every recommended vaccination since I was born and after two decades, I have never suffered from any vaccination side effects – or any of the debilitating diseases which these vaccines protect against.