On vac­ci­na­tions

The Southern Gazette - - EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT -

It’s al­most like play­ing a game of Rus­sian roulette with your own and other people’s lives at stake.

At alarm­ingly high lev­els in some ar­eas, a siz­able num­ber of the Cana­dian pop­u­la­tion has de­cided, for one rea­son or an­other, against vac­ci­na­tions to pro­tect them­selves and their chil­dren from se­ri­ous and con­ta­gious ill­nesses like measles and polio.

Some cite re­li­gious rea­sons, while oth­ers rant on about dis­proved myths, one of the big­gest be­ing vac­cines are re­spon­si­ble for a spike in autism.

Im­mu­nize Canada de­bunks a num­ber of those false­hoods with facts on its web­site, ‘im­mu­nize.ca’.

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vac­cine does not cause autism, nor do mul­ti­ple in­jec­tions over­whelm the im­mune sys­tem, as some would be­lieve. Vac­cines don’t con­tain cells from aborted fe­tuses. Some vac­cines do con­tain preser­va­tives, ad­di­tives and ad­ju­vants, but they are not harm­ful.

Last month, news agencies in Canada re­ported on a sig­nif­i­cant out­break of measles in Bri­tish Columbia that started amongst re­li­gious groups but didn’t stop there, ac­cord­ing to Fraser Chief Med­i­cal Health Of­fi­cer Dr. Paul Van Buyn­der.

"We re­spect the be­liefs of re­li­gious groups, and we un­der­stand they're not go­ing to get vac­ci­nated be­cause of their be­lief sys­tem," he said. "What's dis­ap­point­ing is that the broader pop­u­la­tion has many people who are sus­cep­ti­ble and are at risk. We need to get people to un­der­stand that measles in­fec­tion is a great risk and these vac­cines are very safe and very im­por­tant for pro­tec­tion."

Part of the prob­lem is a loss of trust in the fig­ures of author­ity we once turned to un­flinch­ingly for an­swers. People no longer take the ad­vice of doc­tors or politi­cians at face value like they once did. They’ve been burned too many times.

An­other fac­tor is that we are far enough re­moved from the time be­fore vac­cines for many once-com­mon dis­eases ex­isted that we have for­got­ten how se­ri­ous they ac­tu­ally, in fact, were and con­tinue to be.

Out­breaks of measles and many other po­ten­tially lifethreat­en­ing ill­nesses are pre­ventable in Canada with vac­ci­na­tions.

This week is Na­tional Im­mu­niza­tion Aware­ness Week, and Im­mu­nize Canada is call­ing upon Cana­di­ans to pro­tect them­selves and oth­ers by stay­ing up-to-date with their vac­ci­na­tions.

Dr. Su­san Bowles, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s chair, says, “Im­mu­niza­tions are safe, ef­fec­tive and ben­e­fit people of all ages. They pro­tect in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties by pre­vent­ing the spread of dis­ease. As more people are im­mu­nized, the dis­ease risk for ev­ery­one is re­duced.”

With to­day’s tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia, there are thou­sands upon thou­sands of ex­cel­lent sources of in­for­ma­tion avail­able at our fin­ger­tips, as well as a mul­ti­tude of lousy pur­vey­ors of junk.

Ul­ti­mately, it’s up to you to con­duct your own re­search on vac­ci­na­tions and de­cide for yourself, but do so thor­oughly. As the old ex­pres­sion goes, a lit­tle knowl­edge is a dan­ger­ous thing.

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