Want to save $200, protect your own children from deadly disease and boost the public health of Australia? You’re in luck!
No need to enrol in a workshop, overcome any ‘self-limiting’ belief that you cannot afford the $200 entry price and, best of all, no need to risk the health of anyone!
You simply adhere to the immunisation schedule prescribed for children in Australia.
The reason for sharing this message is that in recent days “news” has spread of a young Sydney woman and mum of two holding workshops to help parents “inform” themselves around vaccination.
It is unclear what qualifications the woman holds but she did quite boldly suggest to potential attendees that: ‘If $200 is a stretch for you, I invite you to reflect on how you could be more resourceful with your money over the next few weeks.”
I have an invitation of my own. I don’t want any of your money but I’d like you to take a moment to reflect on how vaccinating your children will positively impact Australia.
In doing so you will, quite literally, help reduce what the World Health Organisation nominates as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019.
Vaccination hesitancy is described as the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines and it threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.
Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved. A 2018 report found that in the past 19 years more than 21 million lives have been saved through measles immunisations.
But since 2016 there has been a 30% increase in measles cases globally. Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease that can cause debilitating or fatal complications. The reasons for its growth are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy. But some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.
Australia and New Zealand are among those. Australia has seen a number of measles cases recently, prompting government alerts, as well as reminders about the importance of being vaccinated. New Zealand’s South Island is currently grappling with a measles outbreak, with authorities warning the number of confirmed cases is expected to “rise further over the coming days and weeks”.
Measles cases more than tripled across Europe in 2018.
“We only need to go back 30, 40, 50 years to see how much we have advanced in terms of public health because of the immunisation program we have in Australia,” Australian Medical Association President, Dr Tony Bartone, said. “The moment we let down our guard and become complacent, we run the risk of these epidemics, of these attacks, of these outbreaks, becoming commonplace again.”
Which is where we are now. In 2000, there were more than 850,000 measles cases reported worldwide, compared to 173,000 in 2017. For health professionals that progress makes the recent setbacks frustrating.
“We have a safe and effective vaccine,” WHO immunisation expert Ann Lindstrand says. “This is not rocket science, we know what to do.”
‘What to do’ is ensure children are immunised.
Preventing measles outbreaks requires 95 percent coverage of the first dose of the vaccine.
Global coverage has stalled at 85 percent for several years, but the figure is lower in poorer regions like Africa, which had a coverage rate of 70 percent in 2017.
The reasons people choose not to vaccinate are complex; a vaccines advisory group to WHO identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence as key reasons underlying hesitancy. Health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisor and influencer of vaccination decisions, and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines.
The proliferation and dissemination of non-credible information in this realm is highly problematic.
“To anyone thinking that they would not like to proceed with vaccination of their children, I ask them to seriously sit down and talk to their family doctor,” Australian Medical Association President, Dr Tony Bartone said. “Seriously look at the research and the proven scientific evidence which shows that vaccination is safe, is effective and is the only way to prevent against recurrences of these conditions.”
Upon the publication of new research confirming, once again, there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism the RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said GPs are vital to spread the message that parents who don’t immunise their children are not just putting their kids at risk but also those of others.
“People need to do what doctors do every day and assess the quality of the information. We should put out positive messages rather than negative messages, and the positive message is a total population study has again shown no relationship between MMR and autism,” he said.
The smartest choice any parent can make is to immunise their kids. If you are concerned about doing that turn to a health professional to make up your mind. Do not pay $200 to listen to an unqualified parent share an ‘opinion’. There is a chasm between ‘opinion’ and scientific evidence and in this case, children dying from preventable disease is what lies in between.