Every parent deserves to have the choice to vaccinate their children or not. They should be informed and able to make the best decision based on their individual family. A recent program by Ian Sinclair in New Zealand focuses on parents being informed, making this delicate choice and how others feel about it.
The program “highlights the importance of New Zealand parents being able to make free and informed decisions about vaccination” says Katherine Smith. Smith is the spokeswoman for No Forced Vaccines, an organization set up to oppose coerced or forced vaccinations.
“Most children manage to cope with the routine vaccination schedule without suffering any discernible long term effects,” Smith says. “Unfortunately, as the Sunday program story vividly illustrated, the health of a small minority of children can be severely damaged by vaccinations.”
Cases like that of Brittany Collins who had a severe reaction after being vaccinated against whooping cough and is now brain damaged and confined to a wheelchair demonstrate the importance of parents being properly informed about the risks of vaccinations so that they can make an informed choice about this medical procedure, Smith asserts.
“Unfortunately,” Smith continues, “While ACC has compensated children because they have suffered terrible vaccine damage, Ministry of Health publications for parents such as the booklet ‘Immunisation Choices’ omits most of the risks of the vaccines that are recommended for NZ children.”
According to Smith it is “impossible” for parents to make an informed choice regarding vaccination if they rely on Ministry of Health produced information materials alone.
When asked what sort of information sources she would recommend to parents who want to make an informed decision she said:
“I suggest to parents that a good start is to read the manufacturer’s datasheet for any vaccine that they are considering for their children. These are available on Medsafe’s website and list the adverse effects that may occur within a short time frame following vaccination.”
She cautions that longer term adverse effects are linked to some vaccines such as autism or diabetes are not acknowledged by vaccine manufacturers making it desirable to do further reading and research about controversial topics.
“It’s important to be discerning when using the internet as a resource for vaccination information,” Smith adds. “While some sites have excellent quality, well referenced information, others are factually incorrect or have dubious claims.” Bias can also be a problem with certain sites, Smith warns, even those that are maintained by government-funded organizations.
Problems with getting accurate information about vaccine benefits and risks pale compared to the challenges potentially facing parents in the future, if the government accepts recommendations in the Report of the Health Select Committee following its Inquiry into how to improve vaccination completion rates, Smith adds.
“Currently New Zealand parents have complete freedom of choice regarding vaccinations,” Smith explains. “They can choose for their children to have all, some or none of the vaccinations recommended by the Ministry of Health. Given that it is parents and their children who have to live with the consequences if anything goes horribly wrong after vaccination, this is as it should be.”
“It’s important that parents are able to keep the best interests of their children’s health foremost in their minds when making vaccination decisions,” Smith says. “Parents shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the decisions they make regarding vaccinations might cause difficulties enrolling their children at a preschool or school – and vaccinations certainly shouldn’t be linked to any government benefits as no parents should suffer financial hardship as a result of making vaccinations decisions for their children that they believe are in their children’s best interests.”
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