Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Childhood vaccinations - a parent's decision

My youngest, at one year of age, is not vaccinated at all. AT ALL. Not even the Hep B at birth, which seems an odd one to being giving a newborn anyway, so we have refused that with both kids. The older one is partially vaccinated.

I know this is a sometimes controversial topic, but I feel in the end every parent must do what they think is right for their kids. In their wisdom though, the Australian Government makes it somewhat difficult if you decide to take the no vax route or even the delayed vax route.

For example, if your child is fully vaxed, you are eligible for the Maternity Immunisation Allowance, a payment in 2 parts equaling $245.50. If they are not vaccinated, no payment. Ok, no problem, I can certainly cope with that.

The child care rebate is also linked to vaccinations. If your child is not on a vaccination schedule of some sort, and you do not have an exemption, you are not eligible for the rebate, meaning you pay full fees to your daycare provider, instead of the Govt paying part of your fees in the form of the rebate. Now this is a bigger issue than the Maternity Immunisation payment, as daycare fees are just a little expensive.

To me, these two conditions are a way of subtly, or not so subtly really, steering people down the vaccination trail.

Hmmm, what am I trying to say here?

I suppose my point is I am somewhat annoyed that the Government links these payments to vaccinations as if they are rewards for doing the "correct" thing.

Parents are conditioned not to ask questions about vaccinations, they are just told it is a necessary part of childhood.

Someone is sticking a needle in your child and injecting them with a foreign substance. To me, this raises BIG questions. What is in the vaccination? Is it safe? Is it safe for EVERY CHILD? Is it a case of 'for the greater good'? I don't want my child to be potentially sacrificed for the 'greater good', no matter how great that good is.

We live in a modern world, where some of these diseases our children are vaccinated against are not really relevant to our life and our country. On the other hand, my local newspaper reported a recent increase in pertussis, or whooping cough as it is better known, and I know that can be a nasty one. Yes, I did think maybe I should bring my young one in for the shot, as special clinics are being set up round the area to give boosters and shots against pertussis. (The older is already vaxxed against this.)

And there was the incidence of a plane load of people being exposed to polio by an overseas visitor some time ago too. So yes, some of these diseases do rear their ugly heads from time to time.

However, things like measles and chickenpox. Things that were more common when I was a child. I was vaccinated against measles and mumps, yet I got sick with both. Not deathly sick, and it was touted that there was faulty batch of vaccination around at the time I had mine. And I certainly had chicken pox, as did nearly all kids back then, as a vaccine against it wasn't available. Pox party anyone?

Does it benefit our children to immunise them against these measles, mumps and chickenpox? This type of immunity can (supposedly) wane over time....is it not better to get sick with these diseases as a child, rather than an adult? The cases of kids getting REALLY unwell, and hospitalised, with measles, mumps and chicken pox are very very rare, yet they are the reasons our GPs give us for the need to have these vaccinations. I wonder which is rarer (is that even a word??), children permanently damaged by measles or children permanently damaged by a vaccine?

Depends who you talk to I suppose.

I've had people tell me I'm endangering THEIR child by not having mine vaccinated. Hang on, if yours is vaccinated, then where's the danger if mine gets sick? If the vaccination works, your child won't be in any danger at all, right?


This is on my mind today beacuse I went to the GP to get the exemption form for my one year old signed. I knew she'd try and talk me round and true to form, she did. You really need to be in the right mood to get this form signed, there are times when you just don't want to deal with an ear bashing. "This is the decision we've made, can you just sign the darn form please?!

Thank you".


Tanya said...

Hi, are you aware that you can be a 'conscentious objector' to vaccination? I also delayed vaccination- and struggled with the issue immensely but being a student of public health did decide to get my children vaccinated in the end, because I beleive it is benenificial to our societly in general, the 'for the greater good' thing. But it was a really really hard decision. I had to get my doctor to sign a form saying she had explained the risks of not vaccinating to me, I had to sign it, etc and I did get that maternity payment because I did that.
Best of luck, it is a personal and loaded issue.

Cat J B said...

Hi, yes, I did get some sort of form signed, it wasn't the religious objection so I think it must have been the one you're talking about. I didn't chase down the maternity payment though, perhaps I should have. Thanks for your comments.

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