The Tribune (NZ) - - VIEWS - Lone Mor­ris Jor­gensen Toko­maru

Much as I ap­pre­ci­ate Wally Richards’ ex­per­tise with re­gards to plants and the gar­den, I take is­sue with the let­ter on vac­ci­na­tions in Septem­ber 16 Tri­bune.

Wally is rais­ing the is­sue of the profit mo­tive be­hind phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firms ‘push’ to get peo­ple vac­ci­nated. This is­sue is quite dif­fer­ent from the risk fac­tors of vac­ci­na­tions which is the is­sue also cov­ered in the lat­ter parts of Wally’s let­ter. The ar­gu­ment that vac­ci­na­tions are to be avoided be­cause of these risk fac­tors is ir­re­spon­si­ble. Ac­tu­ally get­ting the dis­eases vac­ci­nated against is far more risky as any­one who has lived through times of the po­lio epi­demic, seen ba­bies chok­ing in the fits of whoop­ing cough, or ob­served dam­aged chil­dren born af­ter ma­ter­nal Rubella con­tracted dur­ing their ges­ta­tion, can tes­tify.

That we do not of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence these dis­eases nowa­days means peo­ple have for­got­ten their hor­rors and some make the de­ci­sion to not vac­ci­nate with the ex­cuse that they do so to ‘avoid the risk’ as­so­ci­ated with the vac­ci­na­tion. That they can make that de­ci­sion is based on the fact that enough peo­ple DO vac­ci­nate and thus keep the ‘Herd Im­mu­nity’ high enough that the non-vac­ci­na­tors do not have to face the risk of their child catch­ing the ac­tual dis­ease.

When this form of twisted logic is en­cour­aged by peo­ple who should know bet­ter, oth­ers join the avoid­ance brigade and the Herd Im­mu­nity drops. That not only puts peo­ple who can­not be vac­ci­nated (the very young, the al­bu­men al­ler­gic and the im­mune weak­ened) at risk, but iron­i­cally also in­creases the risk to the chil­dren of par­ents who want to avoid the small risk as­so­ci­ated with vac­ci­na­tions.

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