The campaigns to immunise a large proportion of the Australian population against H1N1 swine flu is under attack by a self appointed group called “Australian Vaccination Awareness” They claim to be “Empowering People to make Informed Choices”.

They “empower” people by spinning the truth to magnify the dangers of immunisation and minimise the benefits. In reality they are totally opposed to all vaccination, so the only informed choice satisfactory to them is to not vaccinate. It also appears to be a bit of a one man (or rather woman) band because most of the contributions are by Meryl

Lets look at just a few diseases for which there are effective vaccinations:

During the Australian measles campaign 1.78 million children were vaccinated with zero deaths. The normal death rate for measles was about 1 in 1,500 In other words probably 1200 children’s lives have been saved since the campaign.

The reported mortality rate for pertussis was up to 50% of those infected. The anormal death rate was 1 in 1,500 There have been no reported deaths from vaccination in Australia.

The symptoms of rubella in children and adults are usually mild. But, and it is a big but, this disease causes serious damage to unborn babies. Such babies may have heart defects, deafness and blindness. In the early 1960’s there was an epidemic in the USA that is estimated to have caused 30,000 still-births and another 20,000 children born with birth defects.

This vaccine has been the subject of a whispering campaign that it causes autism. The chief proponent of this view was found to have manipulated the evidence in the only study to support this.

Let’s be very clear, there is absolutely no evidence that rubella vaccine causes autism, however there is overwhelming evidence that the disease rubella itself causes serious foetal abnormalities and deaths. Why would you take the risk?

Smallpox is an extremely infectious disease with a mortality rate of more than 30% Through vaccination it has been eradicated worldwide as a disease. Before widespread vaccination half a billion (yes 500 million!) people died from this disease in the first half of the 20th century. And some people still have the paranoid belief that vaccination is an evil plot and dangerous.

Like smallpox, with a little more money and an absence of war, polio could be eradicated too. Currently it is endemic in only four countries of the world, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Unfortunately many other countries have reported cases in persons originating in these four countries. However the worldwide total number of cases is somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 persons annually.

Most (say 90%) people who are in contact with the polio virus do not contract the disease, but they are still able to transmit it. The virus is present in the faeces for several weeks after infection. Vaccination produces antibodies that block the replication of the virus.

During the great influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 it is estimated that 25 million people died in 25 weeks, an average of one million people per week. Then the two more recent epidemics of 1957 and 1968 each killed about one million people. So don’t believe the paranoid lies of uninformed fringe dwellers like the “Australian Vaccination Awareness”, and don’t take the current threat lightly – get vaccinated.

Now, for comparison, let’s look at one disease for which there is no effective vaccination:

This disease was first defined in about 1981, it had probably been around for many yeas before that. Currently it is killing about 2 million people annually. In some African countries it is starting to reverse the gradual increase in life expectancy and decrease in child mortality.

And the point of this blog: HERD IMMUNITY

It is very selfish not to have yourself vaccinated, even if you are not worried about the the disease for yourself. Because the more people who are vaccinated, the more difficult it is for the disease to maintain its chain of infection. The result is that the immunised members of the herd are providing protection for the unprotected members. So the “Australian Vaccination Awareness” group are suggesting that it is acceptable to be parasitic on those of us who have enough social conscience to be vaccinated. Polio is a good example of the efficiency of herd immunity.