Influenced by countries such as the UK and USA, the movement against vaccines is gaining momentum in South Africa. The debate is a contentious one, causing a lot of finger ‘jabbing’ amongst parents and medical professionals.
In this article, we’ll drill down to the facts to try injecting some truth into the matter to help you make up your own mind…
What is a vaccine?
A substance which stimulates a person’s immune response to a pathogen.
How a vaccine works:
- Gives the receiver a small component of a pathogen in a non-harmful manner.
- This represents the threat to the immune system, and prepares the body for when it encounters the disease again in a less-harmful form.
- Thus, it teaches your body to prepare for specific diseases.
What illnesses do we need to vaccinate against?
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcal disease
The argument against vaccination
- Vaccines are a conspiracy set up by the drug industry to make a profit.
- Concerns have been raised that the pertussis vaccine could possibly cause autism.
- Vaccines are artificial, and shouldn’t be trusted.
- Vaccines contain ingredients that may harm children.
- Living a healthy life, eating well and relying on the body’s natural defenses is enough to protect you from disease.
There are some people who should not be vaccinated, including:
- Very young infants
- Children born with immune-deficiencies
- People undergoing chemotherapy
- Those who are allergic to ingredients in the vaccine
The pro-vaccination argument
- Unvaccinated people are at risk of contracting dangerous, avoidable diseases.
- This puts a burden on the public – in a community where many people are vaccinated, the disease won’t go much further. The opposite is true for unvaccinated communities.
- The benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks (minor side-effects such as a slight fever or a localised reaction).
- A 2002 report in the British Medical Journal showed evidence that the pertussis vaccine did not have any effect at all on autism.
- There was a diphtheria outbreak in rural KwaZulu-Natal due to a lack of vaccine coverage in that region.
So, which side of the debate do you fall on?
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