Freedom of Choice

Joan Marie Shields jshields at rigel.oac.uci.edu
Tue Jan 7 20:36:39 EST 1997


Meryl & Ken Dorey <van at mypostbox.com> wrote:
>4179.  Unless this decision is overturned, the rights of every
>Australian parent to make informed choices about the health of their
>children or themselves is in grave peril.

>	If we were talking about excluding children with AIDS from schools,
>the country would be up in arms.  Instead, we are talking about
>excluding perfectly healthy children whose parents have chosen to keep
>their health intact by not vaccinating them.

There's one small problem with this - childhood diseases our parents and
grandparents were at risk for are much less a problem today because of 
vaccinations.  While there is a small risk of a child contracting polio
via a vaccination - before this chances were very good that you knew a 
kid who had polio.  

Another example.  In the old USSR people were getting diptheria vaccinations
and the incidence of the disease was fairly low.  Well, with the breakdown
of the old Soviet Union and the breakdown in vaccinations diptheria 
reemerged and there has been a number of massive epidemics.  What's kind of
interesting is that the diptheria vaccination is actually only good for 
about five years.  For a while a population would be reexposed to diptheria
which would then boost their immune system.  However, after a while the 
amount of diptheria in the environment goes down low enough so that people
aren't being exposed and immunity drops.  Suddenly you have a fairly large
population who are susceptible to diptheria.  Someone brings the disease
in and BOOM - you have an epidemic.  

Now, it may seem that with such things as "herd immunity" or relying on 
everyone else having their children immunized to childhood diseases that
your children are therefore safe - but are you certain?  Can you guarrentee
that your child will not get diptheria, measles, mumps, polio?  With the
exception of the last the former diseases don't really seem all that bad
but they can have very serious complications.  You had also better hope
that your children contract chicken pox sometime soon - it can be very very
dangerous when contracted as an adult.  

Childhood diseases have not been erradicated in the world - and it doesn't
look like it'll happen anytime soon.  To weigh the slight chance of 
complications arising from vaccination to the much larger chance of your
children actually contracting the diseases that you could have prevented...
how would you explain this to them?

I strongly suggest you do more reading in non-agenda areas about this 
subject - about preventable childhood diseases and their rates of incidence
and about vaccines.  This is not about you or a socio-political agenda -
this is about the health your children.  


joan
-- 
Joan Shields   jshields at uci.edu    aka: joan at med.unc.edu (until March 1997)
University of California - Irvine                             
School of Social Ecology   Department of Environmental Analysis and Design
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