Simple stats for parents
Otamatea Grey Power have once again mounted their second-favourite hobby horse, about immunisation.
They start with the recycled straw man of compulsory immunisation. It is not compulsory here, though in the US it is a requirement that your child be immunised if you want them to attend kindergartens and schools. Exemptions are permitted, and some states and counties police them rather laxly. Perhaps not coincidentally, these are the same ones that have measles outbreaks.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVACIP) in the US was set up mainly because juries were making judgments that did not take account of hard facts, and were making such very large and irrational awards that vaccine manufacturers began to pull out of the market. Now, special judges with expert assessors to help them, make the decisions.
Most awards are for relatively minor harms, but in the US an overnight stay in a hospital with a relatively uncomplicated matter can quickly lead to a bill of several thousand dollars.
For a more serious condition, with lifelong effects, the bills can be enormous, at which point insurance companies and their lawyers run for cover. The NVICP, though not perfect, ensures some fairness.
OGP invites us to “. . . consider whether, knowing the statistics, you will play Russian roulette with your child’s life”. So here are some simple statistics for parents to ponder.
In a group of 100 children who get measles, most will have mild fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash. In a group of 100 children who receive MMR vaccine, most will have mild pain and swelling at the injection site, joint pain and stiffness.
In the measles group of 100 children, 12 may get diarrhoea and 14 may get an ear infection, 15 of the hundred may have more serious symptoms: nine may get pneumonia, five may have measles croup, and one may have a convulsion due to high fever. In the immunised group, four may have a high temperature, four may be irritable, one may have swollen salivary (spit) glands, and five may have a non-infectious faint red rash.
Of a thousand children who get measles, two may get encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), which may cause permanent brain damage or death. Three of the thousand will develop a tendency to bruising or abnormal bleeding (TCPP). Of a million who get immunised , fewer than one in a million with get encephalitis.
If your child gets measles, they are two thousand times more likely to get encephalitis than if they are immunised. The immunised child is over a hundred times less likely to develop TCPP.
There is a little known and rare complication of measles that about one in 100,000 children may get, coming on several years after the attack and leading to progressive brain damage and nearly always death. This subacute sclerosing panencephalitis does not follow immunisation.
To most sensible parents, I hope by now that the reference to “Russian roulette” is looking to be a bit stupid. Most children who get measles will recover fully, but the risks of not doing so are many, many times greater than the risks of being immunised.
We should not forget either those in the community, those on chemotherapy, whose immune system may be suppressed, and for whom contact with measles may be an immediate threat to their lives.
Otamatea Grey Power wants you to believe that immunisation is both compulsory and unsafe. Their rambling views are not worth even a horse laugh, and they embarrass themselves by offering them.
BILL MORRIS Pukenui Bald Power