Lives at risk

PEOPLE who don't immunise their children are not only putting their child's life at risk -  they are risking the whole community.

Vaccinations have changed in many ways since the first smallpox vaccine arrived in Australia from England in 1804.

While illnesses such as influenza or chickenpox might seem trivial or 'a part of life', diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough and meningococcal C are not - and should not be.

They can be potentially life-threatening for someone with an already weakened immune system.

Infants too young to receive vaccinations, elderly people and people with compromised immune systems - such as chemotherapy patients all rely on herd immunity to protect them from hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella.

Herd immunity is only provided if others are protected from the diseases through vaccination, and therefore do not spread the diseases themselves.

To leave children unvaccinated is irresponsible parenting.

Those who actively promote the idea are not only irresponsible, but endangering other people's lives.

Sending a child to kindergarten is often the first time they mix with a large group of peers, and their risk of catching disease is much higher.

The State Government's goal for 95 per cent immunisation cover by 2015 is admirable, but as a region let's aim higher - let's aspire for 100 per cent .

The benefits of a little jab far outweigh the perceived risks.

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