22nd May 2019
Vaccines Save Lives.
The APA encourages patients to access routine vaccination except where physically or medically impossible. This view is based on the vast amount of medical research into the effectiveness of vaccination, the support of national and international medical bodies, and the rigorous testing of all vaccines prior to being granted approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The World Health Organisation (WHO) vaccine position papers (found on the WHO website) provide a valuable resource for anyone seeking comprehensive information from a global perspective.
The importance of vaccination in preventing the spread of diseases can be understood by looking at the fluctuations in the incidence of measles in Australia and overseas over the past decade. Five years ago, Australia was declared measles-free, due in part to high vaccination rates and the use of the vaccine MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) which has proven very effective in the fight against measles. However, there have been occasional outbreaks.
Measles outbreaks in Australia over the past five years have been caused mainly by the highly contagious nature of the disease (spread through coughing and sneezing) brought into the country by overseas travellers. When vaccination rates dip below 90 per cent, Australia is at risk of continued spread. In the period from January to May 2019, there were 92 confirmed cases of measles – compared to 103 for the whole of 2018, and 81 for the whole of 2017. Global incidence of measles cases has spiked alarmingly because of gaps in vaccination coverage in some countries. For example, in 2018 there were more than 80,000 cases of measles in Europe. Responses to the measles epidemic have been varied– in the State of New York unvaccinated children have been barred from public spaces and in Italy unvaccinated children have been banned from school.
As a result of reduced global vaccination rates, the World Health Organization has declared the anti-vaccine movement as one of the top ten global health threats for 2019. False vaccine claims, despite being continually disproven, have fueled this anti-vaccination movement. For example, see: Vaccine Myths and Where They Came From, Vaccines and Immunizations, and WHO Immunizations. Importantly, the UK doctor commonly named as being responsible for starting the anti-vaccination movement in 1998 has since been disbarred from practicing medicine.
It has been conclusively proven that the percentage of children who die from measles each year (one to two per thousand) far exceed those who die from vaccine side effects such as anaphylactic reactions (about one in a million).
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