The Rise Of The Anti-vacc Movement, Are We Still The Clever Country??

Back in the 80’s Australia was pushing to become “The Clever Country”, recognising the importance of a well educated populace (and hence workforce) in securing a bright future for the entire nation.

Roll forward nearly thirty years to the current day, how well educated and “clever” are we now??

The “Internets” are abuzz these days with debate over the “Vaccination Issue”, on one side we have well known celebrities like Jim Carrey and his wife Jenny McCarthy spewing torrents of pseudo science, lies and downright non-sense and on the other the medical and scientific communities desperately trying to counter them with logic and reason.

Personally, I place as much credence on the opinions of celebrities as I do on those of random people on the street, the trouble is that there are a lot of people unable to separate the celebrity from the status.

Outside of North America we tend to look on the “antics” of “The Yanks” as amusing and fun to comment on but largely unimportant. Unfortunately in the case of the “Anti-vacc” movement, here in Australia it is becoming all too real.

I read an interesting blog post (via Twitter) from Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy website. I was disturbed to hear that we had any serious “Anti-vacc” movement in this country.

One thing Phil and I have in common is that we both get worked up over “woo woo”, pseudo-science and quackery.

A post here at “Skeptic Zoners” talks about the Australian “Anti-vacc” movement.

All hope is not lost, according to figures from the “National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance“, immunisation rates in Australia are around 90%, we cannot afford to be complacent though.

There is a link from Phil’s blog to a story about an episode of “Sunday Night” on the Seven Network that screened last night and covered the vaccination, including the tragic death of Dana McCaffery aged 1 month, in a way that was positive and well researched.

On the topic of Vaccination I feel very strongly that it is our duty as citizens to maintain the currency of our vaccinations for the good of the whole country. Vaccination is not only beneficial to the one that is vaccinated but the “Herd Immunity” that comes from the majority being vaccinated helps those who are unable (or unwilling) to be vaccinated themselves.

Speaking as a parent I have put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, with both my children. In fact my youngest, Callum, is part of a whooping cough vaccine trial run by the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, the trial was to see if vaccination from birth can be effective.

( a link to an article discussing this study can be found here )

As a result of this study, we believe, Callum becomes very distressed whenever we take him to see a Doctor.

We’re sure he will grow out of this but given the opportunity again we would definitely enroll him in the study.

So far it seems that the study is pointing to whooping cough ( and possibly other vaccines ) being very effective even from birth and if the whooping cough vaccination starts to be routinely given at birth then tragedies like the one that befell Dana McCaffery and her family can be entirely prevented.

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