Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate

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Who suffers the most in the debate?

The debate on vaccination has been renewed in BC after last year’s outbreak of measles in Fraser Valley schools. There is a set of parents who diligently get their child vaccinated and then there is another set who are opposed to vaccinations. When doing research for Viewpoint, it was found that the world is a divided place when it came to Vaccination.

Internet is filled with blogs, reports, first person accounts of parents who defy vaccinations and claim that their child is living healthy and better life than the vaccinated children.

Anti-Vaccination is not new. Parents have been informed or misguided when it comes to vaccinations for decades now. The campaign has been losing and gaining ground over the centuries.

The link between Autism and Vaccinations has been established by many anti vaccinations promoters, though none of the theories have stood test of time and have been debunked. Modern day anti vaccine trend began with a UK based physician, Andrew Wakefield who warned parents that the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) could potentially cause autism in children. But his theories have been rejected by majority of physicians globally.

Doing a home birth, deciding on the diet plan for child, planning ahead for your child’s education is all part of personal freedom and very much in the right of a parent. The scary part is when parents decide not to vaccinate their child and this child becomes carrier of some very infectious disease and ends up transferring it to other unsuspecting child who might not have strong immune system (children who are undergoing chemotherapy).

Resurgence of many debilitating infectious disease has questioned the approach of anti-vaccine groups who have been going hoarse shouting the disadvantages of getting your child vaccinated. Currently Canada has only 84 per cent vaccination rate, we are behind UK as per UNICEF’s Innocenti Report Card 11 released last year.

In last couple of years  UK has faced  major outbreaks of dread old diseases which till now were thought to be nearly eradicated. The travel between our country and UK is growing with every passing year and so are the chances of similar out breaks here in Canada, given the background that many travellers may belong to non-vaccinated group.

Canada has recorded about 30 cases of Measles in 2013, including eight in B.C. Then there have been whooping cough outbreaks in the country; in 2012, there were 1,785 cases of whooping cough across the four provinces: southwestern Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick; in 2013, 19 people were affected with the dread cough in West Kootnaey region. Not long ago we had outbreak of measles here in Fraser Valley schools that led to panic among the community.

So what a parent can do? Make an informed choice as parent and responsible decision as a citizen. But when your decisions threaten the safety of other person’s child then an anti-vaccine parent cannot look away.

Don’t be misguided by groups that spread mistrust and fear about vaccines. Your friends who support you may be talking to you in good faith but your decision is going to affect your child so decide carefully.

Government and pharmaceutical companies developing the vaccines have to step in and work towards gaining the trust of parents. Hospitals and

doctors have to allay the fears of new parents and convince them to not to get bogged down by the conspiracy theorists on either side of the debate.