The Prime Minister and Health Minister have announced that the Australian Government will stop giving child-care subsidies to most families whose parents refuse to vaccinate their children.

Vaccination rates in Australia have risen since the Childhood Immunisation Register was established in 1996, but vaccination exemption rates for children under the age of seven have also risen, especially under the conscientious objector category, leaving more than 39 000 children under the age of seven not vaccinated because their parents are vaccine objectors, posing a risk to other young children and the broader community and hence the Government's concern. The rates of avoidable and potentially lethal children's diseases such as whopping cough and measles have also risen.

Why are so many parents refusing to take advantage of a preventable medical option which has saved millions of children's lives across the world? It seems that a small, but significant number of parents have come to believe that immunisation is more risky than the risk of  not  having their children vaccinated. There is no solid evidence to support this belief and significant evidence to support the benefits of immunisation.

 Vaccinations cause autism - No

In 1998 research was published by then doctor Andrew Wakefield claiming to demonstrate a link between the MMR vaccine and the onset of autism. Wakefield's work was subsequently discredited and he was struck off the medical register for his unethical research methods. However, the alleged MMR risks became a major news story internationally, his work was taken seriously by most of the media and years after Wakefield's work had been discredited by his peers, his theories on MMR and autism have continued to influence parents all over the world and the incidence of the diseases targeted by the MMR vaccine have risen. One of the most powerful pieces of evidence demonstrating that MMR  has no link to autism comes from Japan, where the vaccine was replaced with single vaccines in 1993. Autism diagnoses continued to rise.The preservative, thio-mersal  (mercury-containing component in some vaccines) was never used for the MMR vaccine and removed from all scheduled childhood vaccinations in 2000 solely due to the fears that surrounded the word ' mercury". Diagnoses of autism have continued to rise since its removal from the vaccine process for children. Research has not been done in Australia into media coverage of autism and its causes, and we cannot assume all "conscientious objectors" to immunisation are directly influenced by Wakefield's theory, but the way it was reported when published and subsequently have contributed to the atmosphere of fear surrounding vaccination, which has no scientifically validated evidence to support it.

 It is better to get the disease - No

In every case the benefits of vaccination have been demonstrated to outweigh the risk of the disease.  Pertussis commonly require hospitalisation and kills 1 in 200 unvaccinated children under 1 year old. There is no cure and severe complications occur especially in those never vaccinated ( rib fracture, seizures  pneumonia and lung damage) Measles can lead to encephalitis in 1 in 1000 cases, the risk of encephalitis from the vaccination is 1 in 1 000 000, 6 in 100 children infected will get pneumonia and 2 in 1000 will die.

There are two sides - No

There are not two equal sides , there is scientific consensus backed by extensive research that vaccines are safe and effective, and half-truths, misinformation, debunked research and obfuscation regarding vaccine risk.

Vaccines can overwhelm the child's undeveloped immune system - No

The Institute of Medicine, USA looked for evidence that vaccination was linked to autoimmune disease, asthma, developmental disorders, seizures, hypersensitivity and learning disorders. They confirmed that the childhood schedule was safe. ( January 16 2013, at The tiny amount of antigens in vaccines is insignificant compared with the immune challenges faced by children everyday in the environment via playing, eating and drinking.The new vaccines today have fewer antigens than those administered in the past, causing fewer side-effects, but perhaps being less effective in the long term.

Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence  that they can take their children to child care or into society without the fear that their children will be at risk of contracting a serious or potentially life-threatening disease because of the conscientious objections of others. Vaccination is more than personal choice, it is a social responsibility, like not driving when drunk or not smoking around those who do not wish to breathe in your smoke. 

The WA Health Department has an up to date and useful comparison of the effects of diseases and the side effects of vaccines at site.

So how do anti-vaccination advocates sound to other people? Check out this YouTube video. How do anti-vaxxers sound to normal people?

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