To jab or not to jab? That used to be the question.
It seems that the worryingly low statistics of unvaccinated children in Australia is taking a u-turn and is on the way up, and it’s about time!
Peak Hour Traffic
Word is parents are rushing to their GP to have their children immunised and, in turn, State and Territory health departments report they are being inundated with calls from GPs and health nurses about how to implement catch-up schedules for older children who have never had, or have previously missed, scheduled vaccines for their age group.
A spokesperson for Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has confirmed that health departments are sending out an increased volume of vaccine supplies. Having anticipated an increase in immunisations, the federal government made specific vaccines available to catch up older children who hadn’t been immunised at the recommended ages.
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‘There has been a very strong interest in these vaccines’ says Dr Vicki Shepheard, the NSW Health director of communicable diseases, also stating ‘While it is too early to provide meaningful figures, there appears also to have been a strong interest in the supply of vaccines for children under five years of age’.
An example of that ‘strong interest’ is actually an increase in the supply of vaccines given at two, four and six months old for protection against pneumococcal disease, from an average of 24,000 doses a month previously, to 29,000 doses in January.
That certainly is interesting!
Is the ‘Lucky Country’ suddenly becoming the ‘Super Smart Country?’
Actually, the driving force in the recent bombardment of the immunisation clinics is that as of January 1, 2016, the government’s ‘No Jab, No Pay’ policy came into effect. The policy entails that parents whose child is not up to date with their immunisations (not including families with valid medical reasons), will lose Family Tax Benefit Part A payments and childcare subsidies, both of which are heavily relied upon by many families.
So will that mean Australia will reach the target of 95% of children to be immunised? Hopefully!
Will it also mean an end to ‘Anti-vaxxers’? No, of course not, here’s the deal…
I used to only know of the two kinds of immunisation status groups: the ones who did and the ones who did not. The pro’s and anti’s, for’s and against, the protected from preventable diseases and the susceptible to the full brunt. But with the ‘No Jab, No Pay’ laws is enabled, we’re introduced to another group in the melee — the ‘I couldn’t be bothered implementing or keeping up my kids immunisations and I don’t really care either way’ who are also patrons of the ‘I don’t give a crap’ club.
Who are these people? Who the hell does not care about vaccines and immunisation status? I honestly thought that as a parent, you either cared so much that you:
A) followed through with the schedule to a tee to ensure maximum protection and health benefits for your child as well as helping to eradicate preventable diseases and ensure health protection of the young and elderly or…
B) without any medical reason took a firm stance against vaccines, all scientific proof of protection received from them and adopted a hopeful outlook that your children will develop a natural immunity to (preventable) harsh, disfiguring, easily spread, scarring and potentially fatal diseases.
At least, both options A & B involve a major care-factor, even if neither group will ever likely be swayed to vote for the other’s point of view. The complacency of the rest who don’t really know when their child is due for, or last had a vaccination, could well be a thing of the past now that the government is waving welfare money just out of their reach. Is it a bribe to vaccinate? No, it’s more like the option to have money taken off you if you don’t. Watch and see how many merry bandwagon followers, who have no real anti-vax, values ditch that stance and jump ship for the dollar.
Immunise or Vaccinate The Herd???
Vaccination is when a vaccine is administered to you (usually orally or by injection). Immunisation is what happens in your body after you have the vaccination. The vaccine stimulates your immune system so that it can recognise the disease and protect you from future infection (i.e. you become immune to the infection).
‘Herd Immunity’ is when a critical proportion (95%) of the community is immunised to prevent the spread of the disease. The Herd provides indirect protection to those too young or unable (for medical reasons) to be vaccinated and those for whom vaccination hasn’t been fully effective.
Even when high immunisation rates are reached, it will be of extreme importance to continue immunising children and adults, so as not to put us all at risk of infection that can be bought in by people arriving from or returning from overseas travel.
No doubt, it’s already here. At the time of writing, the total number of measles cases in the recent Melbourne outbreak had reached 14, with a further 5 separate cases reported to health services.
If you’re umming and ahhing about whether or not to have your child immunised, consider this:
The disease which requires the highest level of vaccine coverage (95%) to achieve herd immunity is measles as it is highly infectious and can cause serious illness in all age groups, but in particular, young children. The tell-tale rash that covers the entire body (as well as penetrating the lungs and gastrointestinal tract) isn’t even the worst of it. Sky-high temperatures, runny nose, hacking cough, possible vomiting and diarrhoea (dehydration factor) and red sore eyes (conjunctivitis), tiny white spots with bluish-white centres on a red background (Koplik’s spots) found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek, are all symptoms of the virus.
The incubation period is 10-14 days during which there may be no signs or symptoms, and a person with measles can spread the virus to others for about eight days, starting four days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for four days.
Measles can lead to serious complications such as encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and pneumonia. Pregnant women who contract measles are at risk of miscarriage or premature labour. It is also the fifth highest cause of illness and death of children worldwide.
And P.S. For the record, Chickenpox parties are just plain stupid too. Exposing your little one to a horrible illness that will leave them with not only physical scars, but the traces of it hiding in their nerve endings, predisposing them to agonising shingles as adults is a jackass thing to do. Vaccinate, please!
Will we achieve herd immunity before it’s too late?
Source: Smh.com.au, www.mayoclinic.org