Don't be responsible for the measles
New medical research shows a record number of parents are refusing to immunise their children. According to statistics collected from the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register, 30,882 parents have formally objected to their child being immunised.
Of the more than two million children on the register, more than 6000 have no vaccination history.
And while these figures may seem benign they are far from it. As the rate of immunisation goes down the rate of infection increases and diseases that we have almost eliminated with the use of vaccine start to reappear.
And so it with an outbreak of measles being reported in Sydney's south-west. There have been 40 reported cases of measles in the area, with 10 sufferers being taken to hospital. The majority of those affected have been school-aged children and babies under 12 months old.
Dr Stephen Conaty from the South Western Sydney Public Health Unit says in all cases of the measles reported in South-west Sydney all those infected were not fully immunised.
Measles is one of the most infectious of all communicable diseasess, spread by tiny droplets through coughing and sneezing.
It begins with symptoms such as fever, tiredness, cough, runny nose and/or red inflamed eyes. These symptoms usually become more severe over three days. The cough is often worse at night and the affected person may wish to avoid light because of sore eyes.
This is then followed by a blotchy, dark red rash usually beginning at the hairline. Over the next 24 to 48 hours the rash spreads over the entire body, during which time the person generally feels very unwell. Typically with measles, the fever is present and the person feels most unwell during the first couple of days after the rash appears. The rash usually disappears after six days.
Opposition health spokesman Andrew McDonald is a practising paediatrician and says he has seen children die from measles.
"Now is the time for every parent to check their Blue Book to make sure that their child has been fully vaccinated," he said.
Dr McDonald is also reminding teenagers to have theirs too.
In Australia vaccination is not compulsory but immunisations are provided free under the National Immunisation Program.
It is essential to vaccinate our children
- Immunisation is the safest and most effective way of giving protection against the disease. After immunisation, your child is far less likely to catch the disease if there are cases in the community. The benefit of protection against the disease far outweighs the very small risks of immunisation.
- 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 disappeared from many countries.
If you have ANY doubts as to the safety of vaccination or if you have heard any scaremongering around vaccines we strongly urge you to read this.