Last updated: December 14, 2012

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The great vaccination debate: are you for or against?


A young girl being immunised against measles. Source: Supplied

PARENTS are confused about whether to vaccinate their children due to a lack of information, support and open communication with doctors, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has said.

Dr Rod Pearce, an AMA immunisation spokesman, said misinformation was the most common reason parents choose not to vaccinate.

The issue of whether to vaccinate created heated debate earlier this week after figures were released showing a soaring rate of parents refusing to vaccinate.

A poll, run on on Monday, asking whether vaccination for children should be mandatory, received more than 170,000 votes. Of those who voted, 50 per cent agreed.

More than 6000 readers "liked" the story about deadly outbreaks of diseases spurred by people who don't vaccinate, and it received more than 500 comments.

"Nothing more frightening than an idiot with an internet connection and a unhealthy dose of paranoia," wrote Ned, while Bentley said: "I think the sheep who have no idea what is being injected in their children should do some study". Michelle called for "freedom of choice when it comes to health".

Surprisingly, given the level of feedback, just five per cent of Australians choose not to vaccinate their children.

"Misinformation is the most common reason for people choosing not to vaccinate. If we can provide a supportive environment and distribute accurate information and education about immunisation," Dr Pearce said.

Honest and open doctor and patient communication is also essential, said Dr Pearce who added medical practitioners need to get better at criticism and questions from their patients. 

"Many people get annoyed by cocksure doctors who assert the science behind vaccinations as completely full proof," he said. 

"Being open to questions and hearing people's concerns is part of the job and helps people feel better about making the decision to vaccinate," he said.

Since the time of Louis Pasteur, the French chemist who made huge discoveries into microbiology back in the nineteenth century, people have taken an attitude of being almost "above" vaccinations. 

"There was a saying at that time, ‘doctors are gentlemen and gentlemen wash their hands'. But the problem with that is that many of those doctors ended up infecting the patients because they didn't always pay heed to those rules.

"Similarly now, research shows that most people who are choosing not to vaccinate are predominately highly educated or people living alternative lifestyles. But it's absolutely essential that you get all the information you can before you make either decision," he said.

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  • Society Rules of SEQ Posted at 6:31 PM November 29, 2012

    Leain, my right as a taxpayer NOT to subsidise you and your family. Want to pay back the Family Support payments??? Not a chance in hell! You want the benefits but NOT the obligations - how convenient for you.

  • Dr Evil of The Real World Posted at 6:30 PM November 29, 2012

    There is no debate. The facts are simple, clear, well-documented, and irrefutable. Vaccination saves millions of children's lives every year, has been shown to have never caused autism, and has very low actual risks. All of this has been proven, and re-proven, and re-proven. Get over it. Cranks, concpiracy theorists, and trendy 'alternative lifestylers' are playing russian roulette not just with their own children, but with everyone's. You should be ashamed. Absolutely disgusting!!! How many kids do you know in the last 30 years who have died in Australia from typhus, smallpox, measles, polio, diptheria, and a host of other preventable diseases? None! Zero! All thanks 100% to vaccinations.

  • Katana of Ryde Posted at 6:16 PM November 29, 2012

    I was vaccinated as a child, and as an adult I continue to be responsible for me health and continue to vaccinate. I'm vaccinated against tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria, cholera, HPV and hepatitis A. Adults are encouraged to vaccinate. In the flu season, the HPV vaccination, before travelling and before having children. I have had reactions to vaccinations. Had bruising as a child and was in pain and having five vaccines at once hit me right in the gut. But I am still for vaccinations, they save lives. And those parents of healthy unimmunised children, have you ever heard of anecdotal evidence? "My child is healthy and unvaccinated so vaccinations don't work." What sort of scientific evidence is that?

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