The Dangers Of Not Vaccinating Your Child

The anti-vaccination movement has gained popularity in recent years with Jenny McCarthy in the US (who frequently appears on Oprah) and the Australian Vaccination Network here in Australia.  They encourage parents not to vaccinate their children through misinformation and fear.

For instance, this is what the AVN have to say about the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination

Unlike vaccination (which offers only temporary immunity), the natural occurrence of each of these diseases (all non-threatening illnesses in early childhood) generally results in lifelong immunity.

According to the AVN measles, mumps and rubella are all non-threatening illnesses – illnesses that can not harm your child.  Now let’s actually look at the scientific data on the effects of measles, mumps and rubella in children and adults.

Firstly measles.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) says

    Measles is a leading cause of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available to prevent the disease.

      In 2007, there were 197 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 540 deaths every day or 22 deaths every hour.

        22 kids die every hour from measles.  Does that sound like a non-threatening illness to you?  Complications from measles can also cause blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

        With mumps, death is extremely rare but some serious complications can occur such as deafness, sterility (both male and female), meningitis and pancreatitis.

        With rubella, the people most at risk are pregnant women and their unborn baby. There is a 90% chance of a pregnant woman passing rubella onto their unborn baby.  Rubella causes deafness in the unborn child and can also cause defects in the eyes, heart, and brain.

        So how does that compare to the complications that the MMR vaccination can cause?

        Medinfo has a fantastic table which I have replicated here.

        Complications Risk after natural disease Risk after first dose of MMR
        Fits (convulsions) 1 in 200 1 in 1000
        Meningitis / encephalitis 1 in 200 to 1 in 5000 1 in 1000000
        Conditions affecting the clotting of the blood 1 in 3000 1 in 24000
        Severe allergic response (anaphylaxis) 1 in 100000
        Deaths 1 in 8000 to 1 in 10000 (depends on age) 0

        To me, there is no contest, the vaccine is far safer than the diseases it is preventing.

        So far, we have just investigated the risks to the child who is getting the vaccination, but what about the risks to the wider community?  This is a topic that is largely ignored by the anti-vaccination movement.

        There is a heart-breaking article in the Slate by Stephanie Tatel, the mother of a 2 1/2 year old boy who has leukemia.  Because of the chemotherapy her son is receiving, he can not be vaccinated nor does his body have the number of white blood cells to be able fight diseases like measles, whopping cough and chicken pox.  If he contracts any of these diseases his chance of surviving them is very low.  Therefore, he can not go to child care because of unvaccinated children also at the centre.  When he becomes school age, his parents have to make the decision to risk sending him to school where unvaccinated children will be in attendance.  Even visiting a doctor’s surgery could be deadly for this kid if another child sitting in the waiting room has chicken pox or whopping cough.

        Then there are the sad cases of children too young to receive vaccinations dying from whopping cough and measles because of unvaccinated kids and adults.  Kids too young to be vaccinated rely on the herd immunity of their community to keep them safe from these deadly diseases, but as more and more people go unvaccinated, the herd immunity drops to a level where it no longer offers any protection.  There was a horrible case in March this year of a 4 week old infant dying of whooping cough because of the herd immunity in NSW had dropped so low that there is now an epidemic.  This little girl should not have died from a disease that can be so easily prevented through vaccinations.

        Parents should investigate vaccinations before getting their child vaccinated, but instead of only getting one side of the story from the anti-vax groups about the small risk of harm a vaccine might do a child, they should also be told about the much greater risk that the diseases pose to both the child and to the wider community.


        12 responses to “The Dangers Of Not Vaccinating Your Child

        1. Thank you! The anti-vax people drive me crazy. I’m having a baby in January, and I’m scared to death of putting him in daycare because he won’t be old enough to get all his vaccinations, and so many parents are opting not to get their kids vaccinated over this nonsense. I don’t want him catching anything so young, but I only get 6 weeks off!

          • Are there any daycare centres near you that have mandatory vaccination policies?

            I really feel for you. You need to put your son into daycare so you can go back to work, but you also don’t want to put him in harm’s way because of someone else’s ignorance.

        2. The guilt that the anti-vaxers give to parents of kids who have Autism is also huge…

          • I can just imagine. Parents of autistic kids have way too much to deal with to put up with that shit. If any of these people had actually done any research they would find that all studies done show no link whatsoever between vaccinations and autism.
            However, because kids are vaccinated at the same age that autism becomes diagnosable, they wrongly believe that vaccines cause autism.

            • Another speechie who was on an ASD training day with me said that “Private Practise ” (apparently it’s a tv show) had a plotline where a mother didn’t vaccinate the second child after the first was diagnosed with autism, then second child died with measles.

        3. Oh, I get people asking me about this all the time and you know what? You can ALWAYS find signs of Autism BEFORE the vaccination. They just want someone or something to blame.

          Now if Boo wasn’t vaccinated he would have got my Whooping Cough!

          • Home videos are wonderful things – that’s how they’re figuring out how to make provisional diagnoses at as young as 2, by looking back at the home videos of kids with ASD and seeing what they were like at such a young age, before anyone thought they were anything more than a late talker

        4. You clearly state the so called anti-vaxers are engaging in blatant fear mongering. Yet immediately after that statement you quote WHO statistics relating to measles deaths. And the 22 per hour fact is pretty scary. However you fail to mention that half to two thirds of these deaths occur in Africa alone, where malnutrition is a major factor in measles becoming fatal in children.

          Whether we like it or not Autism has become an epidemic and cases are increasing dramatically. That is scary. Something in our modern society is the cause of this – at this stage no one really knows what is causing it. Perhaps it’s the pollution in the air, or the vaccines, no one knows. But you can guarantee organisations like the WHO will prevent proper research seeing the light of day if it interferes with their vaccination agenda.

          You might just want to skip the anti-vax websites and look into the darker side of the WHO itself. And perhaps you may be startled at what you discover.

          • @Sceptic – so tell us what teh WHO are up to…

            on the rise of ASD – better diagnosis – instead of labelling it as intellectual diability, better diagnosis of Aspergers, instead of people being labelled as odd, more babies surviving when born premmie/low birth weight (not necessarily linked to ASD, but to many other delays and disorders), plus the “controversaial” one where there are weaker genes reproducing through that wouldn’t have in the past – but that’s probably more annecdotally and certainly not in most cases where you can “See” where the kid’s ASD gene comes from.

            But I’d be interested in whatever evidence you have of the WHO preventing proper research…

          • If we go with your statistics that half to two thirds of kids that die of measles every hour are from Africa and actually die from malnourishment, that still leaves 9-11 kids an hour that die from a preventable disease. How is that even remotely okay?

            Also, over 20 years of research has been done that has found no link between vaccines and autism unless you count the paper by Andrew Wakefield who falsified his data. No one is interfering with this research in order to make money as much as the conspiracy theorist might like that to be so.

            Should we continue to let children die or become permanently disabled because people think that there could be a link between vaccines and autism although it has never been proven? Or should we continue to do what we know works and vaccinate our kids against these diseases?

            • Exactly!

              Even at that, I’m not particularly comfortable with his assertion that 50 percent of measles deaths are in Africa.. but I’m not terribly knowledgeable on the subject.

              Even accepting his numbers at face value, how in the WORLD does it make the other 50% acceptable?

              Personally, my wife (who works in the medical profession) and I have done all we can to ensure that our boys have received every possible vaccination.

              But let’s boil this down even further. Which would any parent prefer? A child with Autism (no matter the cause) or a child he can visit only at the cemetary?

              Hmm.. yeah, let me think about that for a bit.

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