Fuels Immunisation Debate
Pro and anti-immunisation
arguments are raging following an article by New Zealand Investigate magazine
April/May linking vaccines to SIDS and autism.
The article Jab In The Dark, by Simon Jones, quotes a British report saying
the MMR vaccine should never have been released.
It has sparked a debate on the Investigate forum, involving parents,
anti-immunisation lobbyists, doctors from around the world and members of the
government's Immunisation Advisory Centre.
In the latest postings, parent Aly Cook quotes a letter she has written to
the Health Minister, Annette King, demanding autopsy testing of SIDs (Sudden
Infant Death Syndrome) babies for vaccine involvement.
Read the Investigate article here
Read the Investigate forum on the article here
If you would like to comment on the Xtra Health Pulse, email email@example.com
In September last year, Xtra Health ran a feature on the Pro and
Anti-Immunisation arguments. It is reproduced below:
For many parents, immunising their child is something they do without
question. Others agonise over the decision, concerned at reports of possible
damage from vaccines. The decision may be so hard it just never gets made. Or
the programme may be started and then never completed.
The purpose of this feature is not to provide a viewpoint but, at the request
of Xtra Health readers, to open the debate online.
It is a complex and emotive issue.
Immunisation is offered free of charge to all New Zealand children against
the following diseases: polio, tetanus, diptheria, whooping cough
(pertussis); hepatitis B; Haemophilus influenza type b meningitis (HIB);
measles, mumps and rubella. Tuberculosis immunisation may also be offered, as
this disease has begun to resurface in parts of the community.
The programme begins at six weeks of age. It is supported by the Ministry of
Health, public health services and Plunket. Information is available at the Immunisation Advisory
Groups such as the Immunisation
Awareness Society publish parents' accounts of reactions to immunisation
as well as reports on the composition of vaccines and possible side effects.
Briefly, the arguments for and against are:
The pro-immunisation people:
- the risk of serious side effects is very
- any slight risk is outweighed by the
benefits of immunity to the diseases, which can themselves cause
- immunisation is for the protection not only
of the individual but the community, helping to prevent epidemics of
diseases that can be distressing and fatal. For example, an unimmunised
three-year-old may not die from whooping cough but could transmit it to
a young baby who would be at serious risk
- immunisation works: in countries with high
uptake of the programme, diseases such as diptheria, tetanus, polio and
measles are virtually wiped out
- most claims about long-term
effects from vaccines do not have a scientific basis.
The anti-immunisation people:
- the risk of serious side effects is much
greater than reported
- it doesn't work - immunised children still
get whooping cough etc
- vaccines contain elements that are toxic to
the human body and have long term damaging effects
- the programme depletes the natural immune
response and is responsible for people being less able to fight disease
- diseases are disappearing naturally, not
through immunisation progammes
- there is a financial
incentive between drug companies who make the vaccines and health
Uptake of immunisation is lower in New Zealand than in countries such as the
UK, US and Australia. That may be partly due to stronger promotion in those
countries or a system that is more able to track infants and encourage
parents to bring them to vaccination appointments. These factors would affect
those cases where apathy is the reason for not immunising.
But some parents make a deliberate choice not to immunise against all or some
of the diseases.
Myths and Realities - Australian Government health
scare - the inconvenient facts - Australian Skeptics
Immunisation Awareness Society
of New Zealand
Australian Vaccination Network