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Immunisation is a lifesaver

Written By

This article was recently published in the July 2013 Signpost Community Magazine, published by St Mark’s, Emerald (www.signpostmagazine.org.au).

About Immunisation

There has been a lot of discussion lately in the press on the topic of immunisation. Even Bill Gates put in his opinion when he was here recently. As is the case for all medical doctors and the well informed in the community, the very strong advice is that everyone who does not have a true allergy to the components should be immunised. Natural therapies cannot adequately protect you from these diseases.

There has been comment by some scientists in the past that there may be a link with conditions such as Aspberger’s syndrome. Even though some continue to quote it, this “research” has been found to be flawed and has been discredited, even to the extent that the journal in which it was published has retracted the article.

But you may say that the needles hurt (a bit for a short while) and who wants to inflict pain? While there can be local reactions, and occasionally febrile reactions, these are very rarely serious. So why have your children and indeed yourselves vaccinated? Really, these minor pains are insignificant compared to the risks of the diseases which we are lucky enough to have immunisations against.

Anyone who has sat beside a small child dying from tetanus will not hesitate to tell you. These children die in the state of total-body muscular spasm, such that they can no longer breathe. In their last days, they are nursed in silence and in the dark with minimal contact, lest the spasms start up again. Modern medicine allows us to put them into a coma and to paralyse them, but there is no cure, and death is commonly the outcome.

Anyone who has sat beside a small child dying from whooping cough will not hesitate to tell you. They cough and cough and cough and cough, eventually taking in a deep “whooping” breath. This goes on and on and many die in pain, exhausted. Some of these innocents are too young to be immunised.

Anyone who has sat beside a child (or adult) affected by polio will not hesitate to tell you. They suffer from paralysis, usually of the limbs, which requires long-term rehabilitation. Many have post-polio syndrome with painful recurrence of the paralysis in later life. The less lucky suffer from paralysis of the chest muscles, so that they can no longer breathe. It they have access to a ventilator (or an iron lung) they may survive after many months of assisted breathing.

Too many people forget how recently these diseases were rampant in our community. They have not seen a case. Yet, there has been a resurgence of some of these diseases because there are so many who “choose” not to vaccinate, often because they are ill-informed. Unfortunately, some have a preference to let the rest of their community take the burden, hoping that their own children will be protected by “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity means that if a great enough proportion of a community is immunised, there are not enough ‘susceptible’ children to allow an epidemic to occur, protecting them as well. I sometimes refer to the bushfire analogy. If enough people in a bushfire prone area thin out the trees in their back yards, the remaining trees should be safe from a major fire. Unfortunately, there are now so many people who choose not to immunise, that there is a major risk of an epidemic.

I am not all that ancient, but I have sat beside children and adults as they died from all of the diseases I discussed above. I will not hesitate to tell you that it is your responsibility to have your children immunised.

Dr George T Somers

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