My mum regularly pulls newspaper articles out of the paper for me and leaves them on my office desk to read later. One that arrived a few days ago is still in my head and I have it in my in tray to remind me to comment on it as part of my PhD research, but a discussion about it is just as suited to writing an article. The article was in the Sunday Telegraph on the 15/5/2011 on page 36 in the ‘news’ section. There was a whole page, with two separate articles on it to comment on the issue of whooping cough, both articles written by Journalist Jane Hansen. Note: the online title is different to the one in print.
The first article was entitled, '‘Vaccine Snobs’ Kill Baby'. With a title like this one would expect that parents that had, by the way, refused vaccination for their child, had just been charged with murdering a baby. The article then goes on to talk about how the ‘Champaign set’ and ‘alternatives’ are not vaccinating their children and therefore we are seeing a surge in whooping cough outbreak. That’s just the crux of the story line really- but what reminded me so much of my PhD research as I read this article, was something that was said by Dr Rob Menzies (National Centre for immunisation research and surveillance deputy director- that’s right, there is someone out there surveying the vaccination patterns of the ‘Champaign set’ and the ‘alternatives’), he comments what the real problem is here and the ultimate cause, he says ‘It’s a phenomenon where highly educated people feel they need to do their own research on what is best for their child and there is scepticism of official government policy’
I’m sure his comment was supposed to generate some kind of dislike or distain towards those ‘highly educated people’ who choose not to vaccinate, but I think he is absolutely right- highly educated parents do their own research and then decide, rather than simply taking the government at their word and reccomendation. He goes on to comment that it is parents who live in more affluent Sydney suburbs including Bondi, Vaucluse, Coogee & Manly that are less likely to vaccinate and that there are a high percentage of ‘conscientious objectors’ in Mullumbimby and Byron bay- symbolic of the ‘alternatives’.
What surprises me is that the writer of this article, and those giving input, seem to want to convince these groups of people to begin vaccinating their children in order to stop the spread of whooping cough. Although, if the groups who choose not to vaccinate are in fact ‘highly educated people’, then I doubt they will be convinced, persuaded or coerced into vaccinating their children after being accused of killing a baby and being ‘snobs’ and being blamed for the current explosion of whooping cough cases.
My experience with a community that shuns mainstream medical practices would testify to the fact that comments like these and outright bullying, slander, and overbearing language will only strengthen the convictions of these parents who choose to go against the social flow and hold fast to their ‘own research’ because they are ‘highly educated’ and will not bow to requests by the government or anyone else who uses abusive and emotive language as their coercive tool. This population is not only educated by nature and does their own research but, like the article said is ‘sceptical’ of government policy- bullying them or beating them into social submission will simply not work.
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Hi, we have decided not to vaccinate. We believe we have made an informed decision but would still like to attend talks on the topic. Do you give talks or know anyone who does? We live in Sydney. Thank you and hope to hear from you.
Hi Liza - each year at the Pregnancy and Parenting support group we do a talk on vaccination. Unfortunately you've just missed it for this year (sorry). We may schedule it early next year as a lot of our "regulars" missed it due to illness. You are most welcome to come along and talk to others about your decision not to vaccinate (you will find many like minded souls). To find out more visit this web page