I usually stay away from Health Issues because of my job, but given the nature of my Job has changed and I am no longer involved in policy in any way I am now free to state a few things that I have always wanted to say.
While I am not against natural health products or beliefs and the right of people to make their own choices I tend to get violently upset when your health choices effect my well being or the well being of my family.
Firstly if you have a disease or your child has a disease you are entirely free to chew as much swamp grass or daisy roots as you see fit. That said if you think chewing daisy roots gets you out of immunizing/ vaccinating yourself or your child from diseases then that is where I disagree.(I am not talking here about the flu shot but mainly other more virulent diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, Chicken pox and the like)
While I support your rights not to vaccinate your child if the vaccine or other ingredients in the shot are specifically harmful to your child (Allergies to eggs formaldehyde etc…), but if you have some ignorant notion that vaccinations are a government plot or that all vaccines are harmful to all children you need to do two things first GROW UP because you and the quacks you are listening to are wrong and second keep you and your kids away from the rest of us as you are a threat to public health and safety. No Kennel or SPCA will allow an unvaccinated dog into their premises but there are school boards that refuse to enact an entirely compulsory vaccination program this is a problem. Vaccines are the most effective means to prevent the spread of disease. Although Hand washing and hygiene help they cannot and do not work as effectively as vaccinations.
I am going to recommend an article from the Canadian Journal of Public Health from which I stole the title of this posting. – Could Parents Be Held Liable For Not Immunizing Their Children? by Rebecca Rodal & Kumanan Wilson.
The article argues that while it would be unlikely that a law suit against a single family that refused to vaccinate their child would succeed “the potential to hold liable a group of parents who chose not to vaccinate their children does exist.” but might not succeed because there are school boards that refuse to enact an entirely compulsory vaccination program thus implying that vaccinations are not a must have.
The basis of this argument is on Herd Immunity as the article states:
The phenomenon of herd immunity, which arises when a large enough percentage of the population is vaccinated, more completely prevents the development of disease outbreaks by disrupting the possibility of person-to-person transmission of a pathogen. In the presence of an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, such as measles, a percentage of those who develop the illness may well have received the vaccine, since effectiveness of the vaccines in individuals varies. The implication of these basic scientific facts is that the decision by some parents to not vaccinate their children amplifies the possibility for an otherwise preventable outbreak to occur, and places even children who are vaccinated at risk.
So the one factor that is important is that we need to make vaccinations mandatory before we can hold parents that refuse to vaccinate liable for harm done to the community.
And for those that believe vaccines cause Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) this syndrome even in populations that have been vaccinated is 1-2 per 100.000 annually. Compared to the hundreds of thousands that used to die of Measles each year before the vaccine the number that die of GBS is insignificant. Also GBS is higher in populations that have had viruses and so vaccinations have actually decreased the incidence of GBS
An article in Pediatrics by Bloch AB, Orenstein WA, Stetler HC et al. (1985). entitled “Health impact of measles vaccination in the United States.” noted that “The first 20 years of licensed measles vaccination in the U.S. prevented an estimated 52 million cases of the disease, 17,400 cases of mental retardation and 5,200 deaths.”
So folks the next time a compulsory vaccination policy comes forward support it.
UPDATE – Results of a newly-released study highlights a growing number of U.S. parents are opting not to have their children vaccinated according to health guidelines. Why am I not surprised.