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More ACT parents refusing vaccinations

Date

Natasha Boddy

The number of ACT parents objecting to their children being immunised is at its highest level in two years, figures reveal. 

Australian Childhood Immunisation Register data reveals 1.14 per cent or 437 of the 38,309 children in the ACT had a "conscientious" objection recorded as of March, up from 0.99 per cent or 357 of 35,968 children two years previously. 

Despite this, the March 2014 figure for ACT children recorded as having a conscientious objection was well below the national average of 1.63 per cent or 36,109 out of more than 2.2 million children on the register. 

The figures for the past two years show the ACT had the second lowest level of conscientious objectors of the states and territories in both March 2014 and March 2012 after the Northern Territory. Queensland has recorded the highest rate of conscientious objectors, according to the data for the past nine quarters. 

The data shows 1.03 per cent of ACT children (384 out of a total 37,302 children) had a conscientious objection recorded as of last March compared with 1.07 per cent in June (401 of 37,524 children), 1.10 per cent in September (416 of 37,787 children) and 1.12 per cent in December (425 of 38,028 children). 

However the ACT continues to have some of the best vaccination rates in the country, with the data for the past four quarters showing about 93 per cent of one- and two-year olds in the territory were fully immunised, compared with about 92 per cent of five-year olds

An ACT Health spokeswoman said immunisation was one of the most effective "medical interventions" to prevent disease. It is estimated immunisation saves three million lives globally each year, she said. 

"Immunisation not only protects individuals, but also protects others in the community, for example those who are too young to be immunised or those who are not able to be immunised for medical reasons, by increasing the overall level of immunity in the population and thus minimising the spread of infection," she said.

The spokeswoman said only a small minority of parents refused to vaccinate their children. 

"Their rejection of vaccination may be related to a wider scepticism about orthodox medical interventions and support for alternative approaches to health. Others may have had a personal experience where they, their child or an immediate family member has experienced an adverse event which they feel is attributable to vaccination, or they may be generally concerned about the safety of vaccines for other reasons," she said.

The statistics for conscientious objectors are given as at a particular time and not as the total number recorded each each year. Children are added to the ACIR when registered and removed when they turn seven. 

A parent can apply for a "conscientious" objection if they have a personal, philosophical, religious or medical belief that immunisation should not occur. 

For a formal objection to be accepted into the ACIR against a child’s record, parents or guardians need to sign and lodge a form, which also needs to be signed by a recognised immunisation provider. The Immunisation provider must declare the risks and benefits associated with immunisation have been explained as have the potential dangers of a child not being immunised.

The ACT Health spokeswoman said vaccinations were not compulsory and parents should discuss their decision with their health professional. 

The figures come after the public release this week of a review of global immunisation studies, involving more than 1.25 million children, and case studies, which found no link between common vaccinations and autism. 

The review, published in the medical journal Vaccine, found no "statistical data" to support a relationship between autism or autism spectrum disorders and childhood vaccinations for commonly used vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. 

Sydney Medical School associate professor Guy Eslick, a senior author on the paper, said debate around vaccinations had become a major public health issue. He said the international review was not funded by a pharmaceutical company or vaccine group. 

"You've got parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. It reduces herd immunity, which puts everyone at risk of potentially preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, whooping cough and so it's critically important that parents vaccinate their children," he said. "But at the same time parents should be informed of the potential risks associated with vaccination because no medical procedure has zero risk. There are risks but the majority of them are small and serious long-term negative adverse events from vaccinations are extremely rare.

"I hope this study provides some comfort and reassurance that there's pretty much little or no chance of their children developing autism related to having a vaccination and that they should vaccinate their kids because it's for their benefit."

The National Immunisation Program recommends vaccination at birth, two months, four months, six months, 18 months and four years.

68 comments so far

  • These kids and parents need to be identified so other parents can be aware of the potential risk because we have done the right thing. I certainly dont want my healthly children catching a disease that could have EASILY been prevented by immunisation.

    Commenter
    Shogunmatty
    Location
    Reality
    Date and time
    May 21, 2014, 8:05AM
    • If these parents think they can risk the health of others, they should be required to homeschool and not use public education.

      Commenter
      Daniel
      Date and time
      May 21, 2014, 12:57PM
    • You know the stupid thing about your comment and others below. If your kid is immunized then what is the problem? Or are you saying that immunization is not effective?

      Commenter
      Rex
      Date and time
      May 21, 2014, 3:31PM
    • They cling to the unproven herd immunity fallacy. There has no scientific study, with verifiable and repeatable metrics that proves herd immunity.
      Also the vaccine manufacturers never claim 100% efficacy, nor do they claim its 100% safe, that’s why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) in 1988
      All inconvenient truths.....

      Commenter
      hard
      Date and time
      May 21, 2014, 3:43PM
    • My children were not immunised and I have over 25 years experience working in the Health Industry. My children were never sick with any of the childhood diseases. They played outside in the dirt and were exposed to "germs". The research that I have read strongly links Autism and other abnormalities to vaccinations. My children were not exposed to things like McDonalds foods. They have only eaten a very nutritious diet and dink filtered water instead of soft drinks. They have a healthy immune system which kicks in automatically when exposed to bacteria an viruses. I now have grandchildren who are also healthy. All 5 of our children were not vaccinated, did not acquire polio, diphtheria, whooping cough etc., nor did they endanger any other children at school or in our neighbourhood or circle of friends or family. You have to realise that pharmacology is a multi billion dollar a year industry and basically, if you are well, they are broke. They will stop at nothing to get your money and that is the truth of the matter. In University, Doctors are told to prescribe this and that for your patients. We are trained to pick up the script pad and to prescribe drugs, that's it! No matter what, prescribe a medication. All pharmaceuticals have major side effects which then cause further harm to the patient. Unfortunately, that is how the cookie crumbles in Western Society.

      Commenter
      Dr Ryan
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 8:46AM
  • We should sterilise anyone who is dumb enough to not provide immunisation to their children because they don't deserve more kids to make unnecessarily sick.

    Commenter
    Dixy
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    May 21, 2014, 8:08AM
    • @Dixy, unfortunately those who oppose immunisation or other medical evidence would discount as mere propaganda meta-analysis by bodies such as the Cochrane Collaboration such is their ideological and ill-informed bias.

      Commenter
      Faj
      Date and time
      May 21, 2014, 11:39AM
    • Sterilise? Give their kids polio and smallpox. Then they might change their minds

      Commenter
      Franky
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 21, 2014, 1:49PM
  • The Internet has a great deal to answer for over this issue. A complete nutter in the UK puts up a website without a scintilla of evidence stating that vaccination is linked with autism and the ignorant fall for it. There are a number of web sites claiming the same or similar things, again with zero evidence. Why is it that people are prepared to believe the opinions of people with no scientific or medical background over highly qualified medical practitioners? They seem to think it 's a great government conspiracy. It's exactly the same as the argument over climate science or evolution. We have 97.1% of scientists believing that climate change is real and is impacted by human intervention yet our government is a sceptic and denies the existence of climate change. We have some people who believe that the world is only 6000 years old and who believe evolution is wrong, again with not one iota of evidence. The tragic thing about anti vaccination campaigners is that they endanger the children of others. Children who are not immunised should not be permitted into child care or school. Parents who fail to immunise children should be charged with child abuse. Vaccination works and the chance of a dangerous reaction to immunisation is significantly less than that of being hit by lightning or bitten by a shark. It has a very long history. The Chinese, thousands of years ago, knew that by scraping off smallpox scabs, drying them and inhaling the dust it offered some protection from smallpox. The Indians used a similar method to immunise themselves. People love conspiracy theories and follow the arguments of uneducated crack pots. Maybe the government should prosecute the people who spread these dangerous anti immunisation theories. Immunise your children.

    Commenter
    Dr Livingstone
    Date and time
    May 21, 2014, 8:24AM
    • I could not agree more. Children who are not immunised should not be allowed to attend any pre-school/school or any other facility where they might be a danger to other children. This should apply whether their parents are 'conscientious objectors' or not. Let the objectors home school their children or form their non-immunised schools.

      Commenter
      Florence
      Location
      Firenze
      Date and time
      May 24, 2014, 7:43AM

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