The New South Wales government has just revealed a baby died last month from whooping cough and that the child was not vaccinated. Quelle surprise.
We are incredibly lucky to live in a country that enjoys affordable access to quality healthcare and yet we take it for granted. We have this sense of 21st Century entitlement to make our own decisions based on our own precious opinions regardless of whether those opinions are based on fact.
My husband and I are four months away from bringing our own child into the world and, quite frankly, I’m terrified. Hubby and I were raised in a generation where being vaccinated was the absolute norm, the anti-vaccination movement was on the fringe of society and not really gaining much ground and herd immunity was at its strongest. Fast forward twenty years and we see vaccination rates dipping below 95% (and much lower in certain areas) and innocent children suffering the consequences. These are the kids who can’t understand the issue yet so they can’t make the decision for themselves, or the kids who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated, or the tiny babies who are just too young yet.
Science overwhelmingly supports vaccination in so many ways, but these aren’t the arguments I want to make right now. The fact anti-vaxxers use issues such as Autism to dissuade people from vaccinating also drives me nuts – not only because there’s no link but because these people then demonise conditions such as Autism when we know people who have this condition offer just as much love, beauty and life to our world as anyone else.
But the point I’m really trying to make is a personal (maybe selfish) one: I’m scared for my unborn baby. I’m scared of taking him to a park, a café, a playdate, and getting him sick with something that’s preventable but that he hasn’t been able to build immunity to yet. I’m also scared that he’ll grow into a healthy, wonderful child only to lose a close friend because that child has irresponsible parents who won’t vaccinate. I’m scared that this stupid argument will take hold and my child will grow up in a world where conditions like Autism are feared rather than embraced and understood, and where Science and facts are disregarded for no apparent reason.
I have all these plans to be a great mum but it’s so hard to accept that stupid crap like this, I can’t control.