Vaccination In The Media

This is just a quick blog before the weekend, regarding an article in our local newspaper in February. It really highlighted the scare tactics the media use to frighten parents into vaccinating their children.

When I got the paper out of the letterbox on 17 February 2011, the words “MEASLES OUTBREAK” (Ong, 2011) was typed in big, bold letters all across the front. Now, please bear with me for a moment…and imagine that it was you that collected your local newspaper and saw these words splashed across the front page. What thoughts would cross your mind as you were reading this?

I would imagine that the word “outbreak” would conjure up quite a bit of fear for most people (especially parents with small children). Personally, when I think of the word “outbreak,” I imagine hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people that are negatively affected.

Outbreak! Freak out: get immunised.

Imagine my surprise then, when I read the article and discovered that the so-called “outbreak” involved 15 (that’s right, FIFTEEN) people in TOTAL! Seriously? We’re now calling it an outbreak when 15 people get a normal childhood disease, which can strengthen a child’s immune system and offer them immunity for life? Not even to mention the “boost” our immune systems receive by not only naturally gaining immunity against measles, but also assisting our bodies to better deal with other pathogens in the future. As Dr Moskowits (1992) states (when speaking about measles), “the process of recovering from the natural disease also ‘primes’ the organism non-specifically to respond promptly and efficiently to other micro-organisms in the future. A crucial step in the maturation of a healthy immune system, the ability to mount a vigorous, acute response to infection unquestionably represents a major ingredient of optimum health and well-being in general.”

Unfortunately, most people reading Michelle Ong’s article in our local paper, will be left with the erroneous, scare-mongering, sweeping statement at the end of the article which reads “Dr Peters says vaccinations are ‘safe and effective.’ The only way any country can prevent outbreaks of measles is for 90 percent of the population to have had two MMR – mumps, measles and rubella – vaccinations.”

A big thank you to Michelle Ong and Dr Peters, for adding yet another useless piece of writing to the mountain of articles out there to scare the public, instead of giving them unbiased, educational, well-referenced work to enable them to make an informed decision regarding what is best for their own health.

References:
Moskowitz, R. (1992). Vaccination: A Sacrament of Modern Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.whale.to/vaccine/mosk1.html
Ong, M. (2011). Measles outbreak. Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/rodney-times/4665304/