Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Foolish not to vaccinate

EDITORIAL: Foolish not to vaccinate


Paul Taggart

As the meningococcal-B vaccination campaign is rolled out through the region, the thoughts of the anti-vaccination lobby have begun to appear in the letters to the editor column once again.

The plan is to vaccinate more than a million young people against the disease in New Zealand's biggest ever mass immunisation programme.

Last year, when the campaign was beginning, the Immunisation Awareness Society's researcher, Sue Claridge, said vaccinating would not address underlying problems. Instead, she pointed to overcrowding, poor living standards and poverty.

While such factors do have an impact on the development and spread of illness, including meningococcal disease, to raise them as a mass vaccination campaign was just beginning to get under way could only have been intended to muddy the water.

There has long been an anti-immunisation lobby, driven by a variety of motives.

They have a right to their opinions, but the overwhelming evidence is that existing vaccination programmes, for a range of illnesses that formerly proved fatal or seriously debilitating, have saved countless lives and prevented untold suffering.

There have been more than 5000 cases since the current epidemic began, with about 200 deaths a year.

Not surprisingly, parents who have lost children to the disease, or who are fortunate enough to have children survive a close call with the disease, generally support the campaign unreservedly.

Meningococcal-B has been at epidemic proportions since 1991 in this country. Since then, 220 people have died as a result of contracting it and more than 5000 have caught it, most of them young people.

Those bald statistics are enough to steamroller any anxiety the anti-vaccination lobby may have about the mass immunisation campaign.

After all, there are some diseases and illnesses we cannot yet vaccinate against, but it would be foolish not to do so for those we can.

The sooner all the children in the region whose parents consent, are vaccinated, the safer all of us will be.