Vaccines help protect our kids against several communicable diseases, many of which are life-threatening to our little people. Babies under two are especially at risk of many serious childhood illnesses that are completely preventable through immunization, so why are people not immunizing their kids? Because of fear.
Canada can lead other UNGA members to contribute robustly to the new blueprint for child health past 2015. Since 2010, our country has been a consistent and inspirational champion for child and maternal health, helping to drive down global child mortality rates. Simple, high-impact solutions include vitamins, immunizations, iron supplements, and clean water.
When a parent elects to withhold vaccinations from his or her child without a valid medical reason, it puts my child in harm's way. A recent rash of measles outbreaks across Canada has many anti-vaxxers questioning their decision and opting to keep little Suzy or Johnnie sequestered. In March, we saw over 320 cases in British Columbia. Ontario residents are similarly concerned after several reported cases of measles made the news, putting people at risk all across the region, extending from Hamilton, Waterdown, Burlington and Mississauga.
We have responsibilities as parents, both to our children and the other children they spend time with at daycare, school or other gathering places,to ensure their safety. And that includes getting them properly immunized. You simply don't know more than your doctor or the medical establishment, and neither do the authors and bloggers trying to convince you otherwise. Your family and friends, don't either, no matter how how many times they post anti-vax status updates or tweets. Do you really want to regress to a time when smallpox and polio roamed the Earth?
It's National Immunization Awareness Week, and UNICEF is reporting the failure of Canada to achieve the 95 per cent immunization rate required to protect the community. All it takes is one infected person to travel from an area where the disease is rampant to an area at risk, and we will have an outbreak. It is also no wonder that in the wake of actual conspiracies on the part of industry to hide the dangers of smoking, and acid rain or other environmental pollutants, we have a rise of a belief in phantasmal conspiracies from other big corporations.
While the safety and efficacy of vaccines for childhood infectious diseases is very well established, doubt continues to be sown among well-meaning parents. We need to demand that our government stop speaking out of one side of its mouth about the importance of the modern, science-based immunization schedule, while with the other side approving the sale of useless homeopathic hokum to be promoted as an ineffective alternative. If we do not, we risk a return of deadly childhood diseases like the 100-day cough of pertussis or the deadly, paralytic polio.
It used to be that modern medicine was a thing to be venerated, a doctor's words regarded like golden nectar of wisdom. Now, not so much. Once upon a time vaccinations were seen as miracles in a needle, warding off potentially life-threatening illnesses. In the States, the unvaccinating movement has turned epidemic, with as many as one in 10 parents refusing to vaccinate their children.
Because of the Muskoka Initiative children in Africa are being protected from diseases for just a few dollars. Launched at Canada's G8 Summit in 2010, the focus of the initiative is on supporting proven, cost-effective, and evidence-based interventions. Vaccines are just that. Vaccines save lives and help communities to thrive.