Long ago, when I was young, my parents dreaded what were once common childhood diseases, if not epidemics. My late mother was a nurse who had ministered to polio victims in iron lungs in a hospital devoted to treating infectious diseases. She could not get us vaccinated and protected against polio quickly enough when immunisation came along.
As I said, this was long ago. At one stage Australia even had the worst polio epidemics in the world. Many were afflicted, even schools were closed, with children and adults experiencing life-changing complications and lifelong disabilities. Yet, the World Health Organization (WHO), has now declared that Australia is officially polio free. Yes! Let’s hear it for immunisation.
As children, we were vaccinated. As parents, the baby boomers had their children vaccinated against a variety of illnesses. But are their grandchildren being vaccinated?
Most doctors recommend that infants and children should be vaccinated against a variety of medical disorders. This is for the public health of the young and to protect the greater good of the wider community. But some parents these days are questioning the side effects of some vaccinations, and their effect on the immune systems of young children.
Once upon a lifetime, it was a normal part of our childhood, to experience measles, mumps, chicken pox and rubella, known as German measles. Prior to this children had also had diphtheria, whooping cough or scarlet fever. To illustrate, my grandmother was one of nine siblings. She was the only one to survive infancy, the others passed away from such a range of childhood infectious diseases.
Nowadays, such medical conditions are largely unheard of in our First World country. This is due to immunisation programs.
However, the anti-vaccination campaigners declare that immunising infants and children can give them symptoms of fever or encephalitis, allergic reactions or be against their religion, due to the products used in the manufacture of the vaccines. In the case of the measles vaccine, medical experts would state that the chances of a child contracting encephalitis are greatly increased if any child does contract measles. In modern times, an outbreak of measles, usually from overseas, causes consternation.
Rubella is another example of the effective nature of vaccinations in Australia. Women of child-bearing age used to dread this medical condition as rubella had few symptoms. A woman might be infected while pregnant with long-term consequences on the unborn child. Deafness in infants was a common result of any pregnancy affected by rubella. For quite some time, young girls have been vaccinated against rubella. Now, yes… Australia is officially rubella free! Let’s hear it for medical research!
Would you agree that the ‘authorities’ should fund more expansive biomedical technology and research? I cannot avoid wondering what the modern millennial generations will invent in this field of study. Will the world one day be cancer free? It shall be thanks to some young Einstein, male or female, studying in a laboratory somewhere in the world.
Who wouldn’t like to say, “Farewell, Cancer, by Christmas Day”? As well as cataracts, motor neurone disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, malaria, AIDS, ebola fever, you name it. So, to vaccinate, or not, we must never overlook all the diseases time forgot!