These figures emphasise the minute possibility of having critical reactions to vaccines in comparion to the high risks of acquiring the disease and fighting it off naturally. Therefore natural immunity is not necessarily ‘far’ superior to artificial immunity. The statistics provided above have been backed up by sophisticated scientific research, so they are accurate and unbiased. Similar research has also been done for Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine (see figure 2) (The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 2013). For this reason, and the fact that common side effects from vaccines are usually of no harm (see Biological and Social implications of vaccination section), it is more than appropriate that New Zealand children shall receive vaccines.
Figure - Hib vaccine risks comparisons
Furthermore, the stark proposal that MMR vaccines are a cause of autism in children by Dr. Wakefield was later found to be incorrect. First of all, more than 10 large epidemiological studies could not find evidence that indicated MMR vaccine is associated with autism. There was no significant difference in the brain structure and functioning between children that have been immunised with MMR vaccines and those that have not received MMR vaccines. It is believed that autism is more likely to be caused by uncontrolled mutations of the genes that take part in the development of the brain. (Immunization Action Coalition, 2011) Despite the fact that social media may have magnified Dr. Wakefield’s proposal and many still fear of letting their children receive the MMR vaccine, rock-solid evidence demonstrates that the vaccine definitely does not cause autism and is safe to use.
Some even argue that thimerosal, a compound containing mercury in some vaccines (for preventing bacterial contamination of the vaccines) are also the cause for autism (Natural Mama NZ, 2011). These groups’ viewpoints are not scientifically accepted and hence biased as the claim is again demolished. The ‘mercury’ in thimerosal - ethylmercury – is actually different to ‘methylmercury’, the commonly known type of mercury. In contrast to methylmercury, the body is able to remove ethylmercury from the body quickly and is not easy to enter the bloodstream that flows to the brain (which then may damage the brain). Further, even if thimerosal are harmful, the amount of it in a vaccine is still considerably less than the dose required to trigger mercury poisoning. (Immunization Action Coalition, 2011) To dismiss these fears, vaccines under the National Immunsation Schedule in New Zealand do not even have thimerosal in them (Immunisation Advisory Centre, 2012).
In conclusion, there are far more advantages to New Zealand children of having them vaccinated than the disadvantages. Some misconceptions pointed out by those with opposing viewpoints can be rejected due to evidence from scientific research and comments from knowledgable people that are likely to be scientifically accepted and reliable. Hence I am in favour of vaccinating New Zealand children as it is safe to do so.
Proposed Personal/Societal Action
I propose to the New Zealand Government that there needs to be increased vaccine coverage amongst New Zealand children. This is because (as mentioned before) vaccines are safe to use with children and there are minimal chances of getting severe complications. If there is a drop in the number of cases of infectious diseases in New Zealand, around 17,000 hospitalisations a year and millions of dollars of health care costs will be saved. (The University of Otago, 2012) MMR vaccine rates should be increased in paricular as the immunisation rate in children is only sitting at around 70% in New Zealand recently (The University of Waikato, 2010).