On the face of it, publicly announcing that your child has had a vaccine will sound more straightforward. The parents’ only explanation for a refusal to immunise their child is “one vaccine too many”.
But as you already know, that’s nonsense.
A review by Andrew Peacock and Bruce Keogh published in The Lancet Psychiatry. received mixed reception. It did find a “statistically significant decline in the health status” of children in areas where their parents were anti-vaccinators.
However, the researchers also concluded that “the evidence of the negative impact of vaccination on social-support resilience is often undermined by incomplete or biased analysis”.
So why do parents choose to reject vaccination?
Long term science findings
The academics reviewed the situation over a 15-year period. They didn’t investigate a single case, but cross-checked the impact of vaccine refusal on health for long-term studies.
“If you look at people over 10 or 20 years, children getting jabbed early in life do better with pretty much every outcome,” Dr Peacock says.
“If they’re out, they’re out of school, and sick, they’re sick with flu, they’re sick for longer.
“And it’s not that the vaccines are the problem. They’re just the one intervention that’s got that effect.”
That single intervention is vaccination.
“It’s not that people will not have babies,” Dr Peacock says. “It’s that they’re going to give their children unvaccinated babies so they can have the holiday, go to the airport or the shops.”
The main reason cited by parents is that they feel their child is “immune compromised” after being vaccinated.
“I think that’s utter bollocks,” Dr Peacock says. “There’s a saying in the doctors’ profession, ‘The only generation that gets all the advice is the generation that hasn’t heard the advice’.
“If you ask the professional body, the Australian Medical Association, they’ll tell you that vaccinations don’t make you immune compromised. What they’ll tell you is that having the vaccine will make the disease worse and you will get sicker because the condition is significantly better.
“So you have a child who’s had this number of vaccines that made the disease turn around worse, and then you try and blame the vaccine for that? It’s just false.”
And when his research showed a difference between children living in areas where parents are vaccine refuseers and those in areas where there’s less anti-vaccination, he believes parents believe that they can feel better about going to places where people have been vaccinated.
“It becomes associated with a positive decision-making experience. If you’re living with people who have just had this massive combined shot of three measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, if you go to the shops and see people with measles there’s less of a risk.”
So what should be done?
Dr Peacock tells BBC 5 live: “I think we need to consider things like the ‘flight path’ of the infection.
“Those areas that are more likely to see measles with the vaccination given are places that get a lot of tourists.
“I think we need to consider the geography of some of those problems, and try and come up with policies to reduce the risk.”