Beware the lie that parents cannot make the right decision about vaccines | Lucy Saxon

We parents: the leading light of our declining faith in science. We strive to provide our offspring with all the protections we believe they need, and our faith in God takes precedence over any…

Beware the lie that parents cannot make the right decision about vaccines | Lucy Saxon

We parents: the leading light of our declining faith in science. We strive to provide our offspring with all the protections we believe they need, and our faith in God takes precedence over any medical experiment of the scientific mind. So it seemed fitting to applaud and follow Peter Dutton’s call on Monday for compulsory immunisation. He’s doing it to protect his children, he said, because they are too young to decide whether they want to be vaccinated or not. He’s doing it because he knows that vaccinating his children is the right thing to do for the health of our nation.

As one of our civic founders wrote more than 200 years ago, “Governments come and go, but the principles upon which they were founded remain forever.” The principle we need to put first is this: vaccinate or don’t vaccinate. At the end of the day, it’s the well-informed individuals who decide what is in the best interests of their family, not the organisations that push their agenda on the rest of us.

Like others who hail from a school system run largely by individuals, he is not the most impressive of leaders and thus, had he made this recommendation as the leader of the Liberal party, it is certainly unlikely to be heeded. But in his role as an opposition backbencher, he’s free to make his own decisions in his constituency, and on Monday he made his decision to protect his two small children. That is every parent’s decision, one that is not directly linked to other political decisions, or even his position as an MP.

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In the UK, where we all live (no point demoting me to Russia), parents without medical justification often claim that their children should not be immunised, often claiming that their children are at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella. It’s a claim that is one-sided, selective and devoid of scientific evidence. Rather than “protect” their children, parents of unvaccinated children put other families at risk, and in cases where other children have fallen ill from vaccine-preventable diseases, the parents are ultimately to blame.

Also, if the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine doesn’t suit, or the child is too young, parents can make an individual decision to consent to vaccination without resorting to the blanket unauthorised form, which is said to stop the child becoming infected with an infection. Both the MMR and the Hib vaccines have a very low risk of serious side effects (though more serious than that of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, particularly in children who haven’t fully recovered from their viral childhood vaccine). The benefits, however, far outweigh the risks.

As for the common health argument about the cost of the healthcare system, there are many ways we are bankrupting ourselves (which will be decided by the supreme court) because of the utter inefficiency of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The costs of new medicines are staggering (they cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year), and a widely reported report in 2016 made the point that “Australian hospitals could be run for pennies per bed if they were not continuously frustrated by lack of access to medicines”.

There are times when vaccination can be given, especially if a child has a mutation in a gene that causes some diseases, which in fact make vaccinations unnecessary. Such children’s chances of transmission are lower than most, and in theory they can spread the vaccine as freely as any other child. The genie is already out of the bottle in some areas of the world, so it is not a gamble that will always be profitable.

There’s a lot more to health than medicine, of course, including avoiding too much salt, not smoking, eating healthily and running regularly. Our role as parents is to protect our children from an uncertain world and science cannot eradicate all the threats in it. However, when the scientific method is applied to vaccines, we have proven that they are both safe and effective, and as Thomas Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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