Express & Star comment: Vaccines too important to be ignored
Thanks to advances in science and medicine, children today are safer than they have ever been from a whole host of diseases and conditions which caused such misery and heartbreak to previous generations.
We can claim a hard-won victory over polio, diphtheria, rickets, TB, and smallpox, to name just a few. But that cannot mean the end of the fight because if we’re not careful they’ll be back.
History might show that the early 21st century was the pinnacle of success, until antibiotics became less effective and diseases which had hitherto been controlled emerged in strength once more because people thought they had been conquered and became complacent.
Across our region thousands of five-year-olds are not fully immunised against measles, mumps, and rubella. These children are then at an increased risk of serious disease. The risk is both at an individual level, and a risk for the wellbeing of society more generally.
There is a particular issue around the MMR vaccine because some years ago a study claimed that there was a link between the vaccine and autism and bowel disease.
It made scary headlines, and naturally parents were worried. Although that study has been discredited, and further research has shown no such link, there may be residual memories that the MMR vaccine is somehow unsound.
The very success of the various vaccines available now may also be a psychological factor leading to parents not keeping their youngsters up-to-date with their boosters.
According to the NHS, measles is now uncommon in the UK.
Why go to the bother of getting an MMR vaccine if your child is unlikely to be struck down in the first place? Well, if parents start to think that in significant numbers, a critical mass will be reached which could potentially lead to an epidemic sweeping through this small army of unprotected children.
Statistically, parents who don’t keep their children up-to-date with the MMR vaccine will probably not have anything really bad happen. But there is bad luck as well as good luck. Why take any chances with your children’s health?