I was very interested to find out the other day that 90.1% of people in New South Wales had immunised their children by the time their child turned one. Immunisation seems to be such a controversial topic with loud voices on both sides of the debate; however it does seem like most people decide to immunise. I also found out that there needs to be 95% immunisation coverage necessary for the sustained control of vaccine-preventable diseases. I never knew this and thought it was very interesting. If this is true then it appears that at a rate of 90.1% we may be putting ourselves at risk.
Immunising my children was not something I decided to do easily. I am one of THOSE people who ask lots of questions and do lots of research before doing what I am told. I remember after having my first daughter I talked to loads of people and did quite a bit of research online (although you do find all kinds of craziness on this topic, online).
I personally was a borderline case as to whether I was going to immunise or not, however in the end, we decided that we were going to. I have quite a few older women midwife friends in my life, who are a little bit alternative and interesting, I remember thinking I would talk to them about immunising and for some reason I thought they may be more inclined not to immunise.
How wrong I was.
I remember one of them saying to me very directly that they believed there was more risk to my children if they weren’t immunised. This stuck with me. As I said earlier, we decided to immunise and how grateful I am that we did.
We recently had our third child and just when he was due to be born there was a measles outbreak in our local area. I remember feeling very glad at the time that both the girls had had their measles shots as they go to a big school and are exposed to lots of bugs every day.
I do my best to try and stop the girls from kissing their baby bro on the lips but as much as I tell them no, they still do!! My main concern is them passing something onto him, as he is still very little, but so far he has been good and he also just got his first round of vaccinations last week, which gives me some relief. Whooping cough is another one of those bad bugs doing the rounds (my sister in law had it last year) and no parent would ever want their little bubba getting that.
There has been one other time where I was super grateful we chose to immunise our kids; when we went overseas 2 years ago. Hubby and I like to travel and this is not something we considered when making the immunisation decision, however I can see how important it was now.
Two years ago we took our 2 eldest children to Thailand for two weeks. We stayed at an orphanage for the first week with over 50 kids and helped out where we could. In that kind of context in rural Thailand it is pretty important to have been immunised against some bad bugs, as the last thing you want is your child getting really sick in that setting.
We also took the girls to Cambodia last year and helped out in a rural school with hundreds of kids and again you really want to be immunised in that setting. The reason I bring this up is because travel was not something I considered when making my decision to immunise but now the kids are older and we have travelled I can see how important it is. I would also hate to start immunising my kids at 4 or 7 as that would be a nightmare for them to catch up. Following the immunisation schedule is the best way to protect your kids against some pretty harmful diseases, which is one less thing you have to stress out about as a parent.
NSW Health is making it easier for parents to ensure their children are fully immunised on time. They have created a free phone app, which allows you to enter your child’s name, date of birth and GP contact details. The ‘Save the Date’ app will calculate the next immunisation due date and send a series of reminders to prompt you to call your GP to schedule an appointment for each immunisation. You can make that call straight from the app. You can download the free app here
One other thing that sticks in my mind is how lucky we are to even have the option of free immunisation. I know parents in developing countries would line up for hours or days to get their kids immunised. It is a first-world luxury.
This is one of those topics I was hesitant to post on, but at the same time I think sharing stories and opinions can help as I know I ask lots of my closest family and friends for their opinions and experiences, all the time, as a reference point for making decisions.
I know this post may spark the immunisation conversation but let’s be tolerant and make sure we are good to each other as we discuss this topic.
Hope it helped and feel free to find out more from NSW Health HERE 🙂
Written By School Mum aka Sam Shazzam
*photo credit http://www.freeimages.com/profile/leagun