A way forward on the vaccination debate | The Jackal

28 May 2017

A way forward on the vaccination debate

I can see why people have formed strong beliefs for and against the use of vaccines. On one hand you have people suffering preventable diseases and on the other you have people suffering from prescribed medications. In this post I will explore some of the reasons why vaccination is a good and bad idea.

In my opinion, the people currently hollering the loudest are perhaps the worst suited to be promoting or campaigning against vaccines. Many medical professional's are clearly in the pocket of big pharmaceutical companies and it’s likely that the money and perks they receive has clouded their judgment.

Likewise, some anti vaccination campaigners have a financial vested interest in promoting alternative products and sometimes base their arguments on incorrect information.

One of the loudest campaigners for vaccination is Dr Lance O’Sullivan. I don’t mean to be critical of the New Zealander of the year winner, but he simply shouldn't have approached the debate with such anger nor claimed that there’s been a noticeable drop in immunisation rates in Northland this year because of the anti-vaccination movement.

 Yesterday, One News reported:

The anti-vaccination film Vaxxed which has caused an uproar this week isn't turning people away from immunisation, according to the Immunisation Advisory Centre.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre believes the film screenings will have little impact.
"We have no evidence in New Zealand that this movie is turning anybody away from immunisation," said Dr Nikki Turner of the centre.

"What we find is that people just get their entrenched positions. So somebody that didn't support the New Zealand immunisation program in the first place feels very good about this movie."

Within reason, O’Sullivan should of course be allowed to say whatever he wants to, just like the anti vaccination campaigners. Clearly wanting to ban a movie just because people don’t agree with what it says is preposterous! It would be a clear breach of the right to free speech and shows that certain people have learnt nothing from history.

Likewise, the people who’re talking about taking away people’s right to choose if they or their children are vaccinated need to have their heads read. Furthermore, naming and shaming people's children who aren't vaccinated isn’t a practical solution to reducing preventable diseases through vaccination. These are not acceptable arguments to be having in a democratic society people.

Despite the screaming match of a debate the benefits of some vaccines cannot be ignored. Vaccines in general, and it seems most arguments concerning this topic are very generalised, have saved many lives and the pros of using vaccines intelligently do in fact outweigh the cons.

Having said that, the danger of some vaccination products causing adverse side effects, some of them very serious, is real and shouldn’t be ignored. What hasn’t been publicly acknowledged by much of the medical fraternity in New Zealand is that vaccinations aka biologics are the most recalled product of any type of drug currently on the market.

A company on a voluntary basis usually removes problematic vaccines from the market. However, recalls also occur because of a lack of proper drug testing before the product is released. Sometimes the percentage of adverse side effects in the general population is different to the test group and is no longer acceptable. When a product has been shown to have serious adverse side effects such as seizures or death that violate current laws and FDA regulations, authorities will usually remove it. The pro vaccination campaigners who’re trying to paint all vaccine as safe for everybody shouldn't be ignoring these cold hard facts.

There is no question that some people have valid reasons for not using vaccines. In fact the US federal agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that some people shouldn’t use certain vaccines. This advice actually applies to every vaccine currently on the market and is why people’s right to choose shouldn’t be removed. Simply put, all vaccines aren’t safe for everybody.

Best practice would be that people should be educated and not feel pressured into being vaccinated without having the opportunity to learn about whether the particular vaccine being promoted by their doctor is right for them and safe for their children. In respect to this, drug companies should not be allowed to control the information that is provided.

Sure, there will be a small amount of people who miss out on beneficial vaccines, but there will also be less adverse reactions through a blanket approach and therefore less outcry against vaccination in general. The upshot is that you simply cannot fix the growing amount of dysfunction surrounding health issues related to poverty in New Zealand by ever increasing levels of vaccination. There are far better long-term solutions to our diabolical and growing rates of preventable diseases.