This episode was published in the NT Suns on March 31 2017
VACCINATIONS EVER SO IMPORTANT
Historically, schools children faced diseases which should no longer be considered a threat to health and well-being. Until the 1950’s, there were no vaccination programs in place for anything at all. Then came the immunisation opportunity to ward off smallpox and tuberculosis.
During the 1950’s, polio was a real threat. Schools were identified as places where this scourge could be passed from one student to another. Children were often cautioned on the subject by parents. Many were held back from going to community based activities and into social situations, for fear they would be infected. Then came the Salk vaccine. with immunisation against polio provided by children being given a sugar cube impregnated with the vaccine. Prevention of polio became a reality.
Since then, the development of vaccinations has virtually eliminated chicken pox, measles, mumps and whooping cough. They are among the diseases now under vaccine control.
The opportunity for vaccination against what were debilitating and life threatening diseases, has considerably eased what was a burden of anxiety.
In recent years the percentage of babies and young children being vaccinated has declined. It was for this reason that the Federal Government introduced a ‘no jab, no pay’ program. This discontinued government supported child payments for parents of non-immunised children. What followed was a significant increase in the number of children being vaccinated. This meant that many parents had overlooked having their children immunised.
This year, the government extended it’s watching brief over community health. Children who have not been immunised will be excluded from child care centres and kindergartens (preschools). This restriction has been added in the interests of non-vaccinated children. While this might be seen as arbitrary, it is important that children who are not immunised are protected from possible infection. At stake is their future health and well-being.
In schools if cases of measles, chicken pox and other communicable disease occur, the community is immediately notified. This enables parents to withdraw non immunised children to from school until the crisis is over. This is a better option than children facing the possibility of being infected, having to spend time recuperating, and possibly suffering side effects from having caught the disease.
Medical issues may mean a minute fraction of children cannot be immunised. However, if non-immunisation is a parental decision alone, their children may be placed in vulnerable positions during periods of disease outbreak. Jeopardising the health prospects of young people should be avoided.