The Sunday Telegraph and The Daily Telegraph are today launching a campaign to stop the rise in the number of children succumbing to preventable diseases because parents are failing to have them fully immunised.
Although only 1.5 per cent of parents are “vaccine refusers” or conscientious objectors, many parents are forgetful, leaving areas of NSW with vaccination rates below 85 per cent – despite the inarguable scientific proof that the vaccination program has saved thousands of lives and eradicated diseases that crippled children just a generation ago, including polio.
Despite effective vaccines, Australia has been unable to eradicate diseases such as whooping cough because some parents do not immunise, leaving small babies and children with cancer and other immune-compromising conditions vulnerable.
LATE one Sunday night, Renee and Luke Bradstreet heard a “horrible” gasping sound from their two-year-old daughter’s bedroom.
Mollie was struggling to breathe.
CHRIS Kokegei and his wife Wendy made sure their four children were always fully vaccinated.
But until their seven-year-old son Michael contracted chicken pox and died in 2009, they were unaware that a vaccine had been available since 2005.
“I didn’t know chicken pox could kill and Michael would have been immunised if we had known,” Mr Kokegei, a Terrigal teacher, said.
MARITA Howell can ban parents bringing peanut butter sandwiches to her childcare centre, but she cannot ban kids who are not vaccinated.
Last year, those unvaccinated children risked the life of Ms Howell’s son Jonathon, a cancer survivor.
The Australian Medical Association is advocating tougher measures to make it harder for parents to not vaccinate their kids. Better information must be made available to parents about the risks of NOT vaccinating. This is a responsibility of parents not only for their own kids but community wide. Now, if only a big U.S. paper would take the same approach to highlight this important issue. I wonder how it would go over in the U.S. where personal choice is even more of a sacred cow even at the expense of the safety of others.