Written by Veronika Bradley, Editor for Children’s Health and Safety Association – February 25, 2015 and Republished by Diligencia Investigative Reporting – May 2019
Everyone has the right to protect their children…but if you choose not to vaccinate your children, you place my family at risk. That’s the crux of the matter.
During this age of ‘web information’, everybody and anybody void of professional, medical knowledge has an opinion. Why are parents willing to put our children at risk for someone’s opinion? That’s the question.
The World Health Organization states that vaccines prevent 6 million deaths every year. Despite this valiant and unquestionable success rate, an anti-vaccine lobby, discredited by every conceivable and reputable scientific research study, continues to gain ground destroying confidence in our medical experts – as if to insinuate doctors are merely expressing their personal opinions and not scientific facts. That’s the problem.
Scientists around the world agree that vaccinations are highly effective in preventing infectious diseases and that they are one of the most successful public health achievements of the 20th century.
In July 2014, a project that screened more than 20,000 scientific titles and 67 papers on vaccine safety including meta analysis on 1.2 million children appeared in the medical journal Pediatrics. This review was requested by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality based on a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine that looked at potential adverse effects from vaccines in both children and adults. It strongly suggested that side effects from vaccines are incredibly rare and there are “no ties between vaccines and the rising number of children with autism”.
“Our findings may allay some patient, caregiver, and health care provider concerns. Strength of evidence is high that MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccine is not associated with the onset of autism in children; this conclusion supports findings of all previous reviews on the topic. There is also high-strength evidence that MMR, DTaP [diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis], Td [tetanus, diphtheria], Hib [Haemophilus influenzae type B] and hepatitis B vaccines are not associated with childhood leukemia.”
Vaccinations strengthen the immune system and protect children and adults from specific diseases. Scientists state that the immune system can recognize and respond to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of different organisms. The vaccines recommended for Canadian children and adults use only a small portion of the immune system's overall capacity.
“Because the MMR vaccine is first given at age 12-15 months, and the first signs of autism often appear at 15-18 months of age, concerns have been raised about a possible link between the vaccine and the development of autism. Studies conducted in the US and Europe have found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. Over the years, the Institute of Medicine and the AAP have organized several panels of independent scientists – all concluded that there is no association between MMR and autism.” ~ excerpt from the American Academy of Pediatrics, April 2014.
Babies that are too young to receive vaccinations or haven’t had a chance to build their immunity, often get the disease from a family member who was not vaccinated or failed to stay current with booster shots. Vaccinating parents and older children is key to safeguarding babies that are too young to be protected by the first vaccination.
Health Officials in Germany reported that an 18-month-old boy who was not vaccinated against measles died of the virus
"The irrational scaremongering by some of those against vaccinations is irresponsible. Whoever denies their child a vaccination is not only putting their child at risk but also others, and this can lead to serious health problems," said German Health Minister Hermann Groehe, as reported by Reuters.
Children with a compromised immune system, such as HIV, AIDS, leukaemia, going through chemotherapy, or another underlying medical condition cannot be vaccinated, and are therefore at even greater risk. For this reason, governments must ensure that unvaccinated children are not allowed to be in the same schools as children with compromised immune systems.
Polio, diphtheria, measles and pertussis (whooping cough) can lead to paralysis, pneumonia, choking, brain damage, heart problems and even death. The dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases are many times greater than the risk of a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine.
The measles virus is airborne and can survive up to two hours after an infected person leaves a room. Measles is not just a fever, rash and runny nose but can develop into something more complicated - permanent brain damage, pneumonia, deafness, seizures, blindness and yes – even death. In pregnant women, it can cause miscarriage or premature labour.
Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN a story about parents who would not vaccinate their baby boy because of stipulations created by their religion.
Their one-year-old baby developed pneumonia and meningitis caused by a type of streptococcal bacteria. The vaccine, should he have received it, would have protected him. The boy is alive today but will never see, speak, walk or hear again.
He will live in a vegetative state probably for five years until he dies from something else,” said Dr. Offit, author of "Bad Medicine: When Religious Beliefs Undermine Modern Medicine”, to be released this month, as stated by CNN.
“Basically, we snuffed out potentially a 75-year-old perfectly normal life because of a false concern that vaccines would do harm, or in their misguided notion that somehow religion teaches us anything other than we should care for our children," said Dr. Offit.
"It's too bad it has to come to that because it's always the children who suffer our ignorance and that's certainly the truth here."
“We don't allow philosophical exemptions to restraining young children in car seats, to smoking in restaurants or to stopping at stop signs,” said Dr. Offit.
Measles Statistics: World Health Organization, Health Canada, Immunization Canada, U.S. Centers for Disease Control
Twenty million people contract measles annually.
Every person who carries the measles virus will infect 16 to 18 people - on average.
50 to 75 people died from measles annually in Canada in the pre-vaccine era, compared with 400 to 500 in the US.
About one in 10 infected children will develop an ear infection and some will lead to deafness.
While most people recover fully from measles, one in 20 children will develop pneumonia.
One in 1,000 children who become infected with measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain), which can lead to permanent brain damage and/or deafness.
There was a 99% decline in annual measles cases in Canada as a result of the introduction of the vaccine - from about 350,000 a year before 1963 to less than 2,000 a year in 1995.
In 2002, measles was eliminated in the Americas. The last endemic measles case was reported on November 16, 2002.
In 2013, there were 145,700 measles deaths (mostly children under the age of five) globally which equals to about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour.
An estimated 15.6 million deaths were prevented globally between 2000 and 2013 due to the measles vaccine.
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines disrupted vaccination programs and accelerated the measles outbreak to 53,357 confirmed cases.
In China, there were 50,960 confirmed measles cases because they failed to immunize the migrant workers.
Over 22 million of the world’s poorest children still do not receive the basic life-saving vaccines that are routine in most industrialized countries.
The mandate of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations’ (GAVI) is to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to vaccines in poor countries. This mandate is strongly aligned with the goals of the Muskoka Initiative to reduce child mortality. For 2011-2015 alone, GAVI estimates that an additional 243 million children will be immunized, preventing approximately 3.9 million deaths.
The WHO Regional Office for Europe recently stated that seven countries have reported 22,149 cases of measles from 2014 to present date. They are calling on policy-makers, health care workers and parents to increase efforts immediately for vaccinations against measles.
“When we consider that over the past two decades we have seen a reduction of 96% in the number of measles cases in the European Region, and that we are just a step away from eliminating the disease, we are taken aback by these numbers,” says Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
“We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps. It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years’ efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money and time.”
On February 25th, with philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation works to improve health and eliminate poverty in the developing world, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced $22.5 million in additional funding for inoculation programs for some of the world’s poorest countries. During the press announcement, Harper chastised those parents who refuse to vaccinate their children as being completely irresponsible.
“…we have a responsibility to set an example for God’s sake. We know these medical interventions work and as an advanced, educated society it is completely irresponsible of people… to communicate anything…else,” said Prime Minister Harper.
"Get the facts from the medical and scientific community and if you're not a doctor or a scientist yourself, listen to the people who are. It's that simple."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Bill Gates discussed the continued promotion for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) ensuring it remains a global development priority and a prominent feature of the global post-2015 development agenda.
Harper reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to support immunization as a key pillar of Canada’s MNCH strategy. New investments that will improve access to vaccines for mothers and children are aimed at eradicating polio and eliminating tetanus, as well as providing support to 20 implementation research teams who will contribute to improving maternal and child health in Africa.
$20 million to support the World Health Organization campaign to strengthen long-term immunity against polio in Cote d'Ivoire, Honduras, Malawi and Tanzania.
Up to $2.5 million over a two-year period to match the contributions of UNICEF Canada and the Kiwanis Foundation of Canada to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus in Chad, Kenya, Pakistan, South Sudan and Sudan.
Up to $20 million over a five-year period for research into improving the delivery of health care for mothers, newborns and children in 13 sub-Saharan African countries.
During a moderated discussion, the Prime Minister and Mr. Gates discussed the unprecedented global progress that has taken place since the establishment of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals in 2000. Fifteen years later, the world stands on the verge of ending preventable deaths of mothers, and children under the age of five within a generation, largely due to the leadership and commitment of international partners such as the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Canada is a proud supporter of immunization programming to ensure that every child has access to important life-saving vaccines. This includes commitments made at the 2013 Global Vaccine Summit towards the eradication of polio, which the polio “endgame strategy” expects to achieve by 2018.
“Canada’s top development priority remains eliminating the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children in developing countries. While significant progress has been made, more can and must be done to sustain the momentum and end these preventable deaths within our lifetime. Our Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been steadfast partners in championing this cause, and remain committed to ensuring that all women and children can live healthy and productive lives. Together, we will continue to call on the international community to renew their commitment and support to ensure our global efforts remain focused on eliminating preventable maternal and child deaths.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
I said it before and I’ll say it again. We are so fortunate to live in Canada – a country where the healthcare we receive is not only of the highest quality but also free. It just doesn't get any better than that – and you know it.
For additional information, Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following articles:
Everything You Need to Know about Measles – Washington Post
Vaccination Greatly Reduces Disease, Disability, Death and Inequity Worldwide - World Health Organization (WHO)
Review Finds Little Evidence for Childhood Vaccine Fears – University of Southern California
For additional information, Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following websites: