IT’S amazing that in this digital age, there are still parents who refuse to believe in modern science. One glaring example is the “anti-vaccine” group. According to a group called History of Vaccines, health and medical scholars have described vaccination as one of the top 10 achievements of public health in the 20th century. Yet, opposition to vaccination has existed as long as vaccination itself. There were oppositions in England and the United States in the mid to late 1800s. Amazingly, there are still oppositions around the world today.
Closer to home, Malaysians were shocked by the news of the death of a 14-month old infant due to diphtheria. The disease has almost been wiped out due to successful vaccinations of most children. However, it began to spread again because some parents chose not to vaccinate their babies.
These parents think that they’re doing the right thing. They believe in a conspiracy theory, which claims that vaccinations are a control mechanism by some group of people. They passionately believe this to the point that it blinds their common sense. And because of them, a nearly-extinct but fatal disease has a chance to survive again.
When I posted the issue on my Facebook page, I received an outpouring of responses condemning these anti-vaccine parents. A medical practitioner, Dr Khulailah Musa said, “Diphtheria is a nearly extinct disease. Hence, most medical staff have never seen real diphtheria cases. They’ve only read about it in medical books. So when these anti-vaccines groups pop up, more and more diphtheria cases have been reported and referred to hospitals.”
He continued, “We, medical practitioners, are very scared and concerned when we have to attend to it. The whole hospital will be chaotic because we need to think not only about quarantining the patient’s close contact, but also contain the virus from spreading to the larger community.”
Indeed, a few days later, eight close family members, including the toddler’s mother, were quarantined. The anti-vaccines must have been “happy” that they made an “impact” on society. What would have been a non-threatening case has now become a national issue. Many useful medical resources are being unnecessarily used. These people are selfish. They just cannot see the negative consequences to the community, particularly to the medical practitioners.
TAKE A STAND
I urge the government to make vaccinations mandatory because it’s the babies’ rights to be protected. Their parents’ arrogance and stupidity shouldn’t be the reason why they are vulnerable to avoidable diseases. Some of them will blame fate. But they forget that God has given us brains to use.
Besides fatal risks, unvaccinated children will also find themselves facing difficulties later in life. For example, they may not be allowed to travel to many countries. Some may not be able to get married if they fail basic medical tests. Again, these are not of their doing but that of their uneducated parents.
It’s time we take a stronger stand against this group. We shouldn’t wait for one more avoidable baby death before we take action.