Vaccination has been one of the most successful public health strategies over the years, protecting both children and communities. In Australia, the vaccination of children as part of a program nation wide began in 1932 and has almost eliminated TB and polio as diseases occurring in Australia.

Although the terms vaccination and immunisation are used interchangeably, the term immunisation means both receiving a vaccine and becoming immune to a disease as a result of the vaccination, vaccination means having a vaccine. Vaccines contain small doses of either a live but weakened virus, a killed bacteria or small parts of bacteria or a modified toxin produced by a bacteria. Vaccines may also contain a small amount of preservative or a small amount of antibiotic to preserve the vaccine. Since the year 2000, vaccines available in Australia have not contained thiomersal (mercury). Many comprehensive studies and reviews by expert panels have shown no evidence of developmental or neurological abnormalities such as autism resulting from the use of vaccines containing thiomersal, but it was removed as a precautionary measure and because of the response to the now discredited research published by Mr Wakefield. Some vaccines may contain aluminium salts to help induce a better immune response.

The most common concern is that a child's immune system can be "overloaded" if receiving several vaccines at once. The concern started when the recommended childhood schedule expanded and many vaccines combined into single shots. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that vaccines are not more likely to cause adverse effects when given separately than when given in combination There is no scientific evidence to support spreading out the time period a child receives the vaccines, some evidence that some vaccines may be inadvertently missed and danger from delaying vaccinations puts children at risk of contracting preventable diseases.

Parents genuinely want to do what is best for their children and often want to eliminate additives and chemicals and to be " natural". Part of the identity of being a natural parent is not to vaccinate children.  Natural immunity is often quoted as being better than vaccine-acquired immunity In some cases, natural immunity does last longer than immunity for vaccination. The risks of natural infection outweighs  the risks of immunisation for every recommended vaccine. Wild measles infection causes encephalitis for one in 1000 infected individuals, measles infection kills two in every 1000 infected individuals , in contrast the combination MMR vaccine results in a severe allergic reaction one in every million vaccinated individuals and also protects against the disease.

If you are looking for more information on vaccination, it is vital to make sure the source is legitimate.

  • Is there references and do the references support the findings stated, or is there conditions on the findings or limits to the findings that may have been ignored by the article?
  • Do the sources agree and say the same thing, read from several sources
  • Check the search terms you are using. Searching for immunisation rather than vaccination can filter out some of the less scientific information
  • What other information is provided, is there contact information for the authors and the owners of the site? Does the source share its mission? What other information is provided?
  • Does the information make big jumps in logic? Does the information assume millions of scientists, researchers and medical professionals are par of a conspiracy and the author knows for a fact the truth that has been kept secret for some obscure reason?
  • Is the website trying to sell you something? Often sites which provide anti-vaccination information try to sell something in its place. The sites may also offer memberships or subscription, but still benefit financially from encouraging people not to vaccinate.
  • Review the language used. The word pro-choice is often used, but choosing not to vaccinate leaves others vulnerable and takes away their choice. Vaccinations are not just for individuals, but also disease control and elimination.
  • Are the risks overstated? Often anti-vaccination pages will overstate the known risks of vaccines and downplay or ignore the benefits

Parents are encouraged to research everything to do with their children, it is important to by sure of your sources and not to take one article or one blog post as the truth for what may have life altering consequences based on misinformation.

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