Inform, immunize, inhibit

Times-Herald Editorial Staff
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There are many seemingly legitimate political and scientific debates going on in this country and around the world.

Samantha Emann

By Samantha Emann, special to the Times-Herald

One of the most deadly and most unnecessary of them is whether or not Canadians should vaccinate their children.

Put simply, you should. But do not just take my word for it. And please for the sake of your children do not take Jenny McCarthy’s word for it either. 

Educating yourself on the subject is the best thing you can do aside from actually vaccinating your children.

On the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website is a list of the different facts and fictions about vaccinations and immunizations. This, of course, is backed by scientists and the scientific studies and tests done on this issue.

A few excerpts from this particular webpage spell out clearly the point I am trying to get across and they are:

The dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases are much greater than the risk from a serious reaction to a vaccine.

No long-term effects have been associated with any vaccine currently in use. Any such claims have not been substantiated. Careful research into potential adverse effects is done prior to widespread use. Most vaccines have been in use in Canada for decades.

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (which includes recognized experts in the fields of pediatrics, infectious diseases, immunology, medical microbiology, internal medicine and public health) states that, “there is no legitimate safety reason to avoid the use of thimerosal-containing products for children or older individuals.”

Also check out the page on the same website dedicated to answering the question “ What if we stopped immunizing?” to see what would actually happen if we listened to those not qualified to properly answer that question. 

The issue is how to navigate the minefield brought on by Google when researching this topic.

There are many sites, groups and anecdotal stories on the Internet but none of these amount to scientific proof.

It seems a large number of the North American population went from trusting their doctors, who have education and medical licenses, to trusting what amounts to conspiracy theorists, scam artists and parents looking for a scapegoat for their child’s illness or disease. 

A television host who happens to also have children does not make a doctor or scientist, and almost every major news outlet has covered at least one instance of a previously prevented disease (ie. measles) that has had a resurgence thanks to a misinformed minority.

Ordinarily I and others would be all too happy to let these people live in their fantasy land but, unfortunately, their wrong decisions affect those around them. An unvaccinated child who gets sick can infect others and thus an outbreak can occur.

Let us take the example of measles. It is easy to read about outbreaks in other places and think that it could not possibly happen to us in this part of the world. Wrong.

It can and will happen here if we continue to question something that, until recently, has been effectively keeping our children safe. A few isolated cases of people who have wrongly blamed vaccines for their ailments or those of their children have caused a resurgence of disease and a regression of medical progress.

It is not God’s will (which is the excuse used by a number of people who were affected and may have caused the recent measles outbreak in B.C.), you are not exposing your child to something worse than the disease and yes they will forgive you for making them get a needle.

In my opinion, the only debate should be what the punishment should be for parents of infected children who chose not to protect their children and others against something that can be prevented for free.

The plain and simple fact is vaccinating your children saves their lives and the lives of those around them. The evidence, if you chose to ignore all the scientific research and testing, is right in front of your eyes.

Before the hysteria about vaccinations supposedly causing autism or the scare that vaccines are poisoning our kids with mercury, there were very few instances of preventable diseases like measles, mumps and rubella. Now there are outbreaks and cases happening all over the world including Canada and even Saskatchewan.

May I reiterate that vaccinations are free and fully accessible in this country.

Some people say they will believe it when they see it. Well, open your eyes and vaccinate your kids.

Here are some helpful links to get you started.

A recent report about an outbreak of measles in B.C. from the CBC.

A recent report about cases of measles in Sask. from the Leader-Post.

Immunization Fact and Fiction (from the Public Health Agency of Canada)

The Globe and Mail: Do parents who won't vaccinate have legitimate concerns?

You can also contact me by e-mail or find me on Twitter.

Organizations: Public Health Agency of Canada, National Advisory Committee on Immunization, Google North American CBC Globe and Mail

Geographic location: Canada, Saskatchewan, B.C.

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