Our View (1-5-2018): Make vaccine free

A PUSH for the meningococcal B vaccine to be made available to children for free is a fantastic initiative.

Meningococcal B is the most common strain of the terrifying disease and the required series of injections costs hundreds of dollars.

This puts it out of reach for many people, and I can’t begin to imagine the agony of those who could not afford the vaccine, only for their children to fall ill with meningococcal.

My daughter, aged 5 months, has had her first two shots in line with the suggested schedule. But just because somebody else is struggling to make ends meet does not mean their children should be at risk.

It is infuriating to think even if the vaccine becomes free, some people will refuse to immunise their children.

I’m not talking about the tiny percentage of people whose children cannot receive vaccines for legitimate medical reasons. I’m talking about anti-vaxxers, those who believe vaccination is dangerous and humans are better off by developing “natural” immunity. Of course, if that worked we wouldn’t need vaccines in the first place.

Many of these people claim vaccines cause autism. That is based on 1998 research involving just 12 participants. The results were found to be false and the man who ran the study, Andrew Wakefield, was later deregistered for unethical behaviour, misconduct and fraud. Numerous massive studies since have shown no link between vaccines and autism.

Throughout the world, wherever the vaccination rate is lowest, preventable disease is the most prevalent. Yet people who could and should be vaccinating are refusing, and trying to attract more followers like a cult. They are endangering their own children and others.

Luckily the anti-vax movement is not gaining momentum at the rate you might think. It is important to rebuff these people’s claims, but the number of anti-vaxxers remains mercifully small. The bigger reason for high rates of disease is poverty, and that’s exactly why the meningococcal B vaccine should be free for everyone.

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