My life, it seems, has been riddled with vaccines.Having been born in Sri Lanka and lived abroad for half my life, I’ve pretty much had the works. Following an altercation with my friend’s rabbit in Sri Lanka, we were later informed the Rabbit had died of suspected Rabies which meant myself and my sister had to have a huge course of Rabies jabs. Aged 6, I did not respond to this well, being stabbed with huge boosters weekly was not my idea of fun. Luckily I was bribed with a really fancy Barbie doll (the ones that were kept in display boxes in Toys’r’Us) so I got through it eventually.
However once someone is an Adult, they aren’t as readily bribed with dolls and toys I’ve found. One tragic example of this is the awful fatality of a Student from our University during my first term. The University was offering free Meningitis vaccines throughout Welcome Week, but for whatever reason one poor soul didn’t receive one and died suddenly Owens Park.
Infections such as Meningitis or Encephalitis are often very difficult to diagnose, let alone self-diagnose. Often symptoms present as the common cold or a bad hangover and by the time symptoms worsen or develop, urgent interventions are required. Unfortunately for the young man in my year, time just ran out too quickly.
With this in mind I’m, understandably, very pro-vaccines. This made my encounter with a very resistant Mother whilst on a spoke placement with the Health Visitors, very challenging. We were at a 9 month developmental clinic where parents/carers bring their babies along to see how they’re progressing and if they have any issues or questions. The question of vaccinations was raised and the Mother, who was in her early 20’s and had low-levels of education, was quite sure she wasn’t going to bother with them.
This is the Mother’s choice. She is entitled to make an educated refusal of vaccines if she so desires. However, in this case, it seemed quite obvious her knowledge of the benefits and side effects were very minimal. Mostly word of mouth about how other children had responded to jabs in the past had made this Lady decide all non-essential vaccines were a waste of time and made all babies ill. Eventually we managed to turn her around using our available literature and evidence behind the vaccines, but the key decider for her was reiterating the risks of contracting these communicable diseases. Preventable diseases accounted for just under 20% of child deaths in 2013 (WHO,2013), diseases such as tetanus, measles, meningitis to name a few. So if you come across a family deciding against immunisation, make sure they have all the facts and information available because it might just save a life.
Read more about 2013 mortality rates here: http://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/tetanus/Lancet-2013-Global-child-mortality.pdf