With one child waiting for her skin to clear, and another due to get sick sometime in the next two weeks (assuming she’s one of the 90% of kids that contract the disease when exposed), childhood diseases are rather on my mind. Vaccinations have changed our world, made our children healthier, happier, and less prone to death.
India celebrated an important milestone this week – 3 years without a polio case has had them declared polio-free. Of course, it’s easy enough for the odd case to wander over the border from troubled Pakistan, who are still trying to recover from the fake vaccination program in Abbottabad, which may have helped net bin Laden, but dealt a huge blow to the real vaccination programmes that were attempting to save lives. Crippling polio has been the cost of symbolically killing one man. I digress.
Vaccines have done so much for the lives of kids. Some of the illnesses that they have prevented aren’t often fatal, but they all create misery, misery that our kids no longer have to deal with. I know that my kids will never be paralysed by polio, or be in danger of measles-related meningitis, or any other nasty disease that have now died out in most of the world.
Chicken pox is not on the NZ immunization programme. It’s not a lethal disease, it’s usually uncomplicated and passes in around seven days. But it spreads so easily, causes so much misery, and is easily stopped with a simple vaccine. I guess I can see why it’s not on the schedule – it’s an expense that we don’t see as essential.
It’s a disease we could beat though. Kids don’t need to suffer. I only knew that a vaccine existed because the US has it on their recommended schedule. It was never presented as even a paid option, and I think that needs to change. It’s an option that should be available for anyone that wants to take it, or at least anyone who can pay for it, since it’s not funded.
Anti-vaccine advocates really wind me up. How can you want to take the risk that your child might suffer or die, and that they (or you) might infect someone vulnerable. We can worry about things like autism (no link. At all) mostly because we have removed the diseases that were severely damaging or fatal. Worrying about ‘vaccine injury’ is specious when you compare it to ‘disease deaths’.
I wish I’d vaccinated my kids against chicken pox. It’s a childhood disease that doesn’t need to harm them.