OPINION: Anti-vaccers need a wakeup call. The ignorant approach taken by some parents needs to be called for what it is; selfish and arrogant. 


Besides the obvious issues created by parents not vaccinating their children – they are at a higher risk of contracting life threatening illnesses – they are also risking the lives of other children in both childcare and schools.


According to Queensland Health vaccinations save around 3 million lives world-wide each year. In Australia, we are currently running at around 5% under the ‘herd immunity’ rate.


Herd immunity is where the 95% of the population have been vaccinated which, in turn, helps to protect those who can’t for medical reasons be vaccinated themselves. These include infants who are too young, the immuno-suppressed and people where common vaccinations simply do not work.


It has been a welcome sign that the federal government have implement a ‘no jab – no pay’ Centrelink FTB policy. The policy has led to an additional 200,000 children being vaccinated.


I have little sympathy for the over 140,000 parents who are going without payments due to their blatant disregard for public health.


The result of this policy will no doubt also reduce the risk of other vaccinated children being exposed to diseases they have been immunised against.


I know this seems odd, how can someone who has been vaccinated contract the illness or disease they should have built an immunity to?


My story:

In eighth grade I went on school camp. In my class there was a student who had not been immunised, the only child out of a group of roughly 40 students.


While on camp she, let’s call her Nicole, developed an extremely loud and chesty cough. One by one so did almost all other children. By the end of week a total of 25 students were coughing and spluttering on the bus ride home.


Upon our arrival home parents were informed that Nicole was found to have contracted whooping cough. Mums and dads were told that before they could bring their kids back to school, doctors’ visits and tests would need to occur.


All up the 25 coughing kids also contracted whooping cough, albeit not life threatening and as severe as we were immunised.


Two weeks of quarantine was required by both doctors and the school in an effort to minimise exposure and allow for us to get over the illness.


I was one of the children who, while immunised, contracted the horrible cough.


To this day I dread getting the flu. The pain experienced in my chest from the dry and unrelenting cough has meant that I am almost scared of being sick. Even a short bout of coughing will strain my ribs and upper torso, almost to the point of making me want to cry.


While, as 14 year-olds my friends and I definitely loved being off school for a total of three weeks – one on camp and two in quarantine – it is an experience I never want to have again.


The impact on my family was huge, I had to move rooms so my family would not be at risk of exposure and also to allow them to try and get some sleep at night. I was also a terrible sick child, I expected silver service from my mother and my every whim to be met by my sisters and father.


Thankfully my classmates and I fully recovered and no one else in my household got the dreaded cough, but the scars remain.


The worst case scenario:

Seven years ago Toni and David McCaffery lost their four month old child to whooping cough in almost the same circumstances. Her older, immunised, daughter picked up the bug at day care and infected her younger sister. After a heroic battle, unfortunately little Dana lost her fight for life.

Toni McCaffery meets Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (copyright: The Daily Telegraph)

Toni recently met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in her campaign for change to the childcare sector by advocating for a ‘no jab – no play’ policy. The prime minister is now pushing for the condition to be adopted nationally in a new plan to increase the immunisation rate.


“If you decide not to vaccinate your child you’re putting your child’s health at risk and you’re putting the lives of everybody else’s child at risk too,” the Mr Turnbull told media last week.


The Daily Telegraph featured a brilliant article on their meeting last Sunday, 11 March. You can read their story here.


Queensland and Victoria already have a policy in place, banning children from child care for their parent’s decision not to protect them. Other states are now being urged to follow suit.


Surprisingly though, childcare centres are not entirely happy about the plan. Nesha Hutchinson from the Australian Childcare Alliance told reporters last Sunday that it would be improper for the sector to have to monitor the policy.


“No matter what their personal belief or their personal policy or stance is, basically they then become the immunisation police,” Ms Hutchinson said.


What the hell?? This is one of the most ridiculous statements I have heard from the childcare sector, and believe me, I have heard a few.


From centres banning peanuts, unhealthy food, certain types of toys (toy guns for example) and in some instances Christmas celebrations, it is a joke they now draw the line over public health.


Where childcare centres rely heavily on the public purse for funding it is their duty to uphold the very basic levels of health standards in our society.


TEN News covered this story in great detail, also on Sunday, 11 March. Watch their report here.


I know this article will be divisive among those who read it, frankly I don’t care.


I do not shy away from the fact that one parent’s inaction increases the risk for others contracting deadly sicknesses. You really do need to be called for what you are; selfish, arrogant and moronic.


I don’t care what so-called ‘health’ blog or tea leaves you may be reading. Wakeup to yourself and pull your head out of the sand, or should I say, organic almond milk chai latte. You are endangering us all.


Written by Joshua Mathieson

Follow on Twitter @TheMathiesonEd

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