Parental Preparation: Do your research and know your rights around tetanus vaccination, before you need to

AT A GLANCE

  • The likelihood of developing tetanus is extremely rare, particularly in young infants in developed countries.
  • Tetanus is unique among the so-called vaccine-preventable diseases, as it is not communicable and therefore the ‘herd immunity’ argument is not applicable.
  • There is no internationally adopted standard for the production of tetanus toxoid vaccine. Vaccines containing tetanus are the Td, DTP, DTaP, Hib/DTaP, and Hib/DTwP.
  • The NZ Ministry of Health recommends vaccination against tetanus. The disease is covered on the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule. The vaccines used are INFANRIX®- hexa, INFANRIX-IPVTM and BoostrixTM.
  • Parents choosing not to vaccinate their children against tetanus must be prepared: 1) Know how to treat injuries and wounds; 2) Be knowledgeable about available vaccines; 3) Know when to refuse and why; 4) Double check all information provided by hospitals or medical professionals; 5) Ask questions; 6) Stay firm.

The IAS was contacted recently by the concerned parent of a New Zealand primary school student. The parent had taken the child to the hospital following a puncture injury and felt bullied into allowing the child to receive two separate vaccinations. At a later visit to the child’s GP, who supports the parents’ choice not to vaccinate, they were informed the hospital-provided vaccinations were unnecessary, leading to further distress for the parents and child involved. How should this parent have handled the situation? Is there any recourse?

The Immunisation Awareness Society (IAS) wishes to support parents in their decision making process. As part of this, we encourage parents to fully research each vaccine recommended by the Ministry of Health, carefully exploring all the possible side effects, as well as the actual proven benefits, if any. Situations like the one these parents faced are all too common. The only genuine way to prevent them is to empower yourself as a parent. As they say, prevention is the best cure. Here at the IAS, we hope to empower parents as they make weighty decisions and strive to provide the best for their children.

The likelihood of developing tetanus in New Zealand is extremely rare, particularly in young infants. While it is one of the so-called vaccine preventable diseases, it is unique in that it is not communicable. The ‘herd immunity’ argument so often faced by conscientious objector parents is irrelevant when it comes to tetanus. Furthermore, the tetanus vaccine carries with it significant potential risk.

Dr Kris Gaublomme, a medically qualified homeopath and vaccine researcher, writes that there is an “overwhelming amount of literature on tetanus toxoid vaccine adverse side-effects, and the severity of those complications make it absolutely impossible to ridicule them as rare and benign. Doing so could only demonstrate a profound lack of knowledge of the literature concerned. Some medical professionals insist on having adrenalin readily available when tetanus toxoid is administered, thus admitting that the vaccination is in fact a life-threatening medical intervention, even in apparently healthy individuals. This speaks for itself. Risking one’s life by an intervention which is probably ineffective, to avoid a disease which will probably never occur, is not sound medical practice. All it takes, on a world scale, to avoid the majority of tetanus cases is clean scissors to cut the newborn’s cord. Information, soap and peroxide might do a far better job than tetanus vaccine”.

As a parent, it is your obligation to speak for your child and to be well-versed in the ‘why’s and ‘how’s of vaccination. Empower yourself:

1.       Be prepared: Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of an emergency situation (such as a cut, puncture, graze, etc.) to learn how to handle such an emergency. Panic leads to loss of control. Ensure that you know how to provide general first aid to your children. Epsom salt baths and Vitamin C, for instance, can work wonders in wound management.

2.       Stay focused: Develop a plan for how to handle an emergency situation, remain calm should you have to use it and stick to your plan.

3.       Do your homework: Double check all information about tetanus – the disease and the available vaccines. Know what it is, how it can develop, how to protect against it and how to handle it. Make sure you know what the vaccines are called, what’s in them and what the potential side effects are. It is your responsibility as the parent to know this information, especially if you choose not to vaccinate. More importantly, get familiar with all the vaccines available on the NZ Immunisation Schedule. Be familiar with the ingredients and the contraindications. Anything listed has occurred. Don’t let ‘rare’ give you a false sense of security.

4.       Listen carefully: You will be pressured by the medical establishment to vaccinate, particularly in an emergency situation. Doctors and medical professionals will assume (with good reason) that if you’ve made an informed choice not to use any vaccines at all, you’ve done that by reading all the data sheets before refusing the vaccines. Listen carefully to all information provided, ask questions and don’t say yes simply because you feel pressured. The more you know about the vaccine, the less likely you are to bow to pressure.

Protecting your children is a tough job. A healthy diet and lifestyle will help ensure your child has an uncompromised immune system, well able to cope with any natural childhood illness, resulting in natural lifelong immunity—something you will never get from any vaccine. Promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle for the whole family is the best way to prevent occurrence of tetanus in the first place.