Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Vaccinations Matter

Vaccinations Matter

Keira Mulholland

Year 7, Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School

Millions of defenceless people die each year because they themselves or the people around them are not vaccinated. Many parents worry about the safety of their child and the effects vaccinations have and make the choice not to vaccinate against infectious diseases.

Why wouldn't parents vaccinate their children? One common reason is the belief that vaccines are dangerous. This is not the case. Vaccines are carefully tested on thousands of people in clinical trials and are continuously monitored to ensure their safety. In Australia, vaccines must go through thorough testing for up to 10 years before they are approved for use.

Some parents also believe that Mumps, Measles and Rubella shots lead to autism. In 1998 a paper was published by British scientist, Andrew Wakefield, stating there was a link between MMR vaccines and children developing autism. His research was later discredited and found to be fraudulent and his medical license was revoked. According to the Queensland Government, reviews by the American Academy of Paediatrics, The British Chief Medical Officer, the UK Medical Research Council, Canadian experts and a recent Danish study at Copenhagen's Statens Serum Institute have all found no link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Research also shows the chances of a vaccinated child developing autism are not higher or lower than an unvaccinated child developing autism.

The Australian Government pays for all children to be fully vaccinated under the national immunisation scheme. There is little or no money that has to be paid by the public. It doesn't cost much to save the lives of those around you, but it may cost the lives of those around you when you make the wrong choice.

Vaccines are made to support and strengthen the immune system when fighting an unwanted disease. Some people may have heard that vaccines weaken or overwhelm a child's immune system but this is not true. A child will need the assistance from vaccines if they catch an infectious and sometimes deadly disease. Just by vaccinating your child, you can save millions. Of dollars! Of lives!

Take a moment to consider if you have ever been in contact with a newborn baby, an elderly person or perhaps a friend, neighbour or family member who has cancer. I know I can say yes to all of those. What I also know is that my parents' choice to vaccinate me has also protected the people around me. There are many people in our community that need protecting. Immunisation is one of the world's greatest achievements, saving millions of lives worldwide. Australia's population is over 90% vaccinated. Once it reaches 95% it will greatly reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, therefore, protecting the most vulnerable in our community.

According to the World Health Organisation, there is probably no single health intervention more preventive and cost effective than vaccines. 2-3 million lives are saved by vaccines each year. An extra 1.5 million could be saved if more people are vaccinated.

While some people may be against vaccinations for a variety of reasons including perceived costs or a belief that vaccines are dangerous and cause autism. I believe vaccines are a cost effective and necessary measure to prevent the spread of deadly infectious disease through our community. Through research and testing vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective, eradicating many diseases that were once rife in our communities. There is also no research or scientific evidence to suggest that vaccines cause or are linked in any way to Autism. Australia's national immunisation scheme provides vaccines for free. It's a cheap shot and the results save millions.