Rachel Barnden, Mullumbimby
I am very worried for my four week old baby. No child can be immunised at four weeks of age because they are too young. But she could catch a virus like whooping cough or chicken pox from one of the 200 Mullumbimby Primary kids when I pick up her older siblings every day. The possibility is that half of that school is not immunised. In 2011 three quarters of the kindy class contracted chicken pox over a two term period, which equated to about 12 kids.
Years ago I researched both sides of the debate. At the time I had been working in Traditional Chinese Medicine I immunised my first two kids late because we lived up in the forest and had very little interaction with the community, and I wanted to wait until their bodies had grown stronger. Yes I was scared of the risks of an adverse reaction.
Education is the most powerful tool one can possess. I am now a final year science student at university and I now fully understand the concept of ‘research’ as many people are writing about. Yes it is about doing your homework and understanding both sides of a debate. Since this is a medical issue the best information will come from published and referenced medical journals, which can be accessed through university libraries. However, research also means an experimentally tested hypothesis, with a strict experimental design and multiple replicates based on the methodology of previous researchers. Research does not mean scanning the internet for opinions but rather weeks or years of testing in laboratories (such that of vaccines).
Having further educated myself, I now know that the risks associated with proven science is better than risking my newborn’s life in a community with low immunisation rates. It is only a matter of time before the northern rivers sees a return of preventable illnesses and it will most likely originate from an overseas visitor into the Byron Bay community…
Literally, every day this winter I am scared for my four week old daughter. I hope that it won’t be a repeat of 2008 when I knew loads of people with whooping cough. That is why we immunise (herd immunise) to protect those who medically cannot.