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7 arguments against getting your kids vaccinated - and why they're complete and utter bollocks.

In the last few months, the anti-vax movement in Australia has attracted significant attention.

First, Shanelle Cartwright, the wife of NRL football star Bryce Cartwright, went public via social media to her more than 7000 followers about her decision to not vaccinate her children.

Then it was announced that Taylor Winterstein, the wife of NRL player Frank Winterstein, would be hosting a $200 workshop warning people about the ‘risks’ that come with vaccinations.

Days later, controversial chef Pete Evans endorsed an anti-vaxxer on his Facebook page.

To be clear – the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that “immunisation is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases,” and estimate that each year, it averts “between 2 and 3 million deaths”.

Late last year, the WHO confirmed that the anti-vax movement has prompted a 30 per cent jump in measles cases worldwide, and has since listed “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the 10 global health threats of 2019.

Even Facebook is cracking down, recently announcing that we’ll see less and less anti-vax content in our feeds because they’re weeding it out and removing it from society’s peripheral.

The Quicky explores the latest anti-vaxxers to pollute the system. Post continues after podcast.

But time and time again, vaccinations have been proven to be safe, and the biggest myths around them have been debunked.

So, if someone in your life starts questioning them, send them this.

The seven biggest arguments used by anti-vaxxers, and why, frankly, they’re complete and utter bollocks.

1. Vaccination causes autism.

Despite being debunked time and time again, this claim just doesn’t seem to disappear.

It was a valid concern in the early 1990s, but we have 30 years of research, from multiple studies, that proves it’s completely false.

Autism rates in developing countries have risen in this time, but that’s likely to be because of increases in diagnoses, or changing definitions for autism.

In fact, the author of The Lancet, Dr Richard Horton who is behind a lot of the autism-vaccination link fears, admitted in 2004 he was paid by attorneys to write the journal that sparked the movement, because they wanted to file lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers. The paper was eventually retracted.

Sydney GP Dr Keang-Sing Lim told Mamamia it is still among the most common queries parents-to-be ask at his clinic when it comes to the topic of vaccination.

“Lot of studies look at the rate of autism between those who have been vaccinated and those who haven’t. The rate is the same. Vaccination DOES NOT increase rates of autism,” he said.

Anti-vaxxers also claim the Amish don’t vaccinate and do not have autism. This comes from a lie told by Dan Olmsted in Age of Autism.

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The Amish do, in fact, vaccinate….

“The idea that the Amish do not vaccinate their children is untrue,” says Dr. Kevin Strauss, MD, a pediatrician at the CSC. “We run a weekly vaccination clinic and it’s very busy.”

2. Vaccines are full of “toxins.”

This myth appears to be stoked along by a lack of understanding in chemistry and toxicology, that scientists and medical professionals can easily explain away. 

Formaldehyde is used in vaccine preparation and traces can be found within doses. Drinking fluid concentrations of this is bad, however the amount present in a vaccine dose is 0.1 milligrams per dose. When you eat an apple, you consume up to six milligrams of formaldehyde.

Thiomersal breaks down to produce mercury. Mercury is toxic – yes. But it is also a powerful antibacterial. It’s mainly present in a vaccine when it’s used to help treat epidemics, that is, when they are making it en masse, not for single use vials. This isn’t generally how we use it in Australia. Yet this argument is used a lot by Aussie anti-vaxxers.

Even when it is used, however, it contains the same amount of mercury you’d find in a tin of tuna.

Most vaccines contain materials to enhance the immune response to them, and aluminium salts are one of these.

Aluminium can be toxic. However, once again the doses found in vaccines are much less than the rates of aluminium found in food and drink. Human breast milk in fact contains 40 micrograms of aluminium.

Then there’s squalene. This is an oily substance that occurs naturally in plants and animals and is used in vaccines to enhance the body’s immune response to an antigen – once again it can be toxic.

It’s also a regular ingredient in foods, lotions and cosmetics. The amount found in a vaccine is minuscule.

3. Disease was already disappearing before vaccines because of better hygiene and sanitation.

Sure, let’s entertain this theory for a micro-second shall we.

Yes, socioeconomic conditions have definitely had an indirect impact on rates of disease. We’ve got better nutrition, better survival rates if we do get sick thanks to advances in technology, and less crowded and dirty living conditions – which means less disease transmission.

However, if you look at the pattern of incidence of vaccine related illness once vaccines are introduced, you’ll see a pattern emerge: a real, permanent drop.

We can look to three countries’ experiences to further back this up. Great Britain, Sweden and Japan cut back on the use of the whopping cough vaccine because of fears raised about it. The effect was dramatic and immediate, reports the WHO.

In the UK, a drop in the vaccine in 1974 was followed by an epidemic of more than 10,000 cases and 36 deaths by 1978. The same patterns were observed in the other two countries.

4. Most people who get disease have been vaccinated.

Guess why…..THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VACCINATED. Of course this means they will outnumber those who haven’t been vaccinated.

The other thing to keep in mind is, no vaccine is 100% effective. Most routine childhood vaccines are effective for 85% to 95% of recipients. Everything doesn’t work on everyone, but it works on the very vast majority.

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5. Vaccines have harmful side effects.

All medicine carries a risk. So does that mean we don’t…take it?

The relative risk of injury from vaccines is significantly lower than the risk of injury from getting the disease naturally, says WHO.

Most vaccine adverse reactions are actually quite minor and temporary – such as a sore arm or a mild fever.

More serious side effects occur in the instance of one per thousands to one per millions of doses.

As for death, which is another anti-vax claim – the risk of death is so low that it is hard to assess statistically, or to prove it was even as a result of the vaccine.

To add to this argument, anti vaxxers claim giving multiple vaccinations for different diseases at the time time can increase the risk of ‘overloading the immune system.’

As the WHO explains, children are exposed to things that’ll affect their immune systems every day.

Kid eats dirt: immune system affected. Kid touches weird saliva-filled bubblegum at the playground: again, immune system breached. Even eating a piece of broccoli is introducing a world of foreign antigens to a child.

A number of studies debunked this fear, in fact, research is underway to find ways to combine more antigens in a single vaccine injection (for example a measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox mega vaccine).

6. “Big Pharmas” are just raking in the cash.

Sure, they make money from vaccinations.

But if vaccination rates dropped there would be an increase in preventable illnesses, many of which have high rates of complications resulting in hospitalisation and expensive treatment.

The money to be made from the diseases far outweighs the money to be made from vaccines.

7. The diseases I am being told to vaccinate against, don’t exist anymore.

Correct…they are very rare. Because we as a society have been vaccinating against them for decades.

However, just because a disease isn’t very prevalent here in Australia doesn’t mean it’s not thriving in another part of the world. Travellers can unknowingly bring these diseases into the country, and if the community isn’t vaccinated in the form of herd immunity, our protection against it will crack.

Vaccination isn’t just about the individual, as Paediatrician Dr Scott Dunlop explained to Mamamia. It’s about the bigger picture of protecting the community as a whole.

“The obvious danger of these [anti vax] views being heard is that they take hold in even a small way, and the population suffers as a result of decreased herd immunity,” he said.

“Vaccination works when more people in the community are vaccinated,” added Sydney GP Keang-Sing Lim.

“It’s not just a case of protecting your child, it’s other people’s children as well. If we all play the game, we get a better result in the end.”

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