An Overview

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Figure 1. Available from: http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Immunization/Pages/Home.aspx

Anti-vaccination movements have existed for as long as vaccines themselves, and though arguments against vaccination have varied over time, they have often stemmed from similar roots; religious opposition, distrust in the medical sciences and misinformation through flawed vaccination studies.

Currently in Australia, childhood vaccination rates are at around 91-93%, between the ages of one and five years, across all National Immunisation Program vaccines. Although this percentage seems adequate, immunisation rates need to be at this level, or higher, in order to reach the Herd Immunity Threshold, and protect vulnerable individuals (who cannot vaccinate) within the wider community.

Unfortunately, there are pockets of communities in Australia where the immunisation rate is significantly lower, with several towns in New South Wales having rates under 75% for children under five years old. This is well below levels needed to achieve herd immunity for most vaccine preventable diseases, and these low figures can result in outbreaks of these diseases within vulnerable populations.

One of the significant reasons for this disparity in vaccination rates, and the increase in outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, is the rise of anti-vaccination movement. These movements can spread fear and distrust in the medical field, leading to parents making the tough choice to not vaccinate their child. Unfortunately, this can have a negative effect on the wider community, not just the individuals making the decision.

Image result for confused mom

Figure 2. Illustrates the effect of having vast amounts of information available to parents. Available from: https://weareiu.com/blog/erica-miller/what-to-expect-iu-temp-housing

It is worth noting that, no matter what side you stand on, no parent makes a decision for their child with the intention of causing them any harm. Therefore, this blog aims to present and discuss perspectives on both sides of the argument, debunk any myths that are encountered and open up conversation between pro- and anti- vaccination movements. It is hoped that through this blog, we can educate the wider community to make better, scientifically backed decisions that benefit both the individual and the wider community.

References

  1.   Immunise. AIR – Current Data. Australian Government: Department of Health; 2016 [Cited: 16 Feb 2017]. Available from: http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/acir-curr-data.htm
  2.   Teach UNICEF. Data Analysis Activity: Herd Immunity. UNICEF; 2015 [Cited: 16 Feb 2017]. Available from: https://www.teachunicef.org/sites/default/files/Data_Analysis.pdf
  3.   My Healthy Communities. Immunisation Interactive Data Table. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; 2016 [Cited: 16 Feb 2017]. Available from: http://www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au/interactive/immunisation/table/postcode  
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