Immunisation, the media and the amplification of irrational anxiety

Immunisation, the media and the amplification of irrational anxiety

In Australia, the rate of non-immunisation of children has doubled in a decade and rates of some very avoidable but potentially lethal children’s diseases such as measles and whooping cough (pertussis) have gone up. There's been recent media attention given to some extremely sad cases of very young babies dying from whooping cough, with the distraught parents sharing their experiences of watching their very distressed child struggling to breathe before eventually succumbing to this once rare illness. Parents that have their children vaccinated are concerned that their children are being placed at risk in child minding centres from non-immunised children. The Australian Federal Government has reacted by enacting a ‘no jab, no pay’ policy, which will restrict childcare benefits for those parents who refuse to have their kids immunised.

"In the United States and the UK, too, immunisation rates have fallen over recent years, and diseases which once plagued our children, and were then all but wiped out by immunisation programs, have returned in significant numbers.'

This trend also puts us a risk; we can't have live vaccines and our response to other vaccinations falls as our CLL progresses and as we age. Our ability to fight off illnesses worsens too and is a major factor in why we can be said to die with CLL not from it (though arguably it is our CLL that caused us to succumb to the infection).

"So what has been going on? Why are so many parents refusing to take advantage of a preventive medical technology which has saved literally millions of children’s lives across the world?' Brian McNair, Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication at Queensland University of Technology, Australia, examines where the anxieties have come from that have resulted in a growing number of parents refusing to have their children immunised. Seems that it all stems from something that happened nearly 20 years ago in the UK...


Photo: The courgette (zucchini) flowers in my vegetable garden produce so much pollen that bees have trouble flying away. I'm not sure if it's because they can't see, it's the weight of the pollen or the pollen makes them aerodynamically unstable, but I've seen them struggle back to land on a leaf and after a lengthy period of cleaning , buzz off in a much better controlled flight.

5 Replies

  • Great photo Neil...! Maybe they can't fly off because they are allergic to pollen ;-)

  • LOL!

  • Hi Neil Is that why my gp is offering triple antigen vaccinations to us vulnerable souls in the practice? They're calling us in on a roaster system? I'm told it's ok for cllers no risk cos it's inert. I had a bad reaction to anti tetanus many years ago when I was a student nurse. It took a week to react with pretty bad urticaria. I was in sickbay for A few days under obs incase the swellings blocked my trachea! I'm sure they've changed the methods of culturing ats these days.

    Cheers Neil


  • Hi Shelia,

    I presume you are talking about the dTpa (Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis triple antigen vaccine? From the Australian Federal Health Immunisation Healthbook:

    "Pertussis vaccine is only available in Australia in combination with diphtheria and tetanus, with or without other antigens such as inactivated poliomyelitis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b."

    While the vaccine may not contain weakened live bacteria or viruses, some of us (self included when it comes to the tetanus vaccine) can be very allergic to components in some vaccines. Given your history, you'd want to be very sure that you aren't at risk of an allergic reaction before having the vaccine. Some find that CLL makes them more sensitive to allergens...


  • If you have had a serious reaction to one of the vaccines, I would be cautious, as Neil warns. A close friend was deathly allergic to the tetanus vaccine. I have had no problem with it and, because there was an outbreak of whooping cough in Southern California that resulted in all children, as they entered school and junior high school to be vaccinated, made sure I was up to date, though who knows if my vaccination will help. Herd immunity is important for those of us who are immune compromised, or as I call it (sorry Chris), herd mentality.


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