david ahern

david ahern

Current editor of The Majellan, David has spent more than 40 years as an editor/journalist

I’ve always tried to remain respectful to people with opposing views on politics, religion, or sport. However, if one thing really irks me it’s the obstinance and selfish behaviour of anti-vaxxers.

At a time when many people are rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccination and the annual flu jab, I can visualise the howls of protest coming from some sections of the community. Even during the various lockdowns that much of Australia had to endure over the past 14 months, if there was one group willing to cry foul, it was people with an ignorant, bigoted mindset venting their anger about vaccinations.

Not that anyone was being told they had to get the jab, but that didn’t stop a small number of activists from carrying on like their freedoms were being lost forever. Seriously!

Sure, we live in a democracy and people are free to choose where they live, how they live, how they bring up their children and whether to give them a state school education, a Catholic education or home school them. That’s their prerogative.

But when it comes to not vaccinating their children, I see red. Immunisations have saved millions of lives over the past century and anyone who tries to argue otherwise is either ignorant or plain silly. Fortunately, recent generations have not seen the effects of polio or smallpox or the other dreadful diseases that once were commonplace. Large-scale vaccination programs have been effective in either eradicating or greatly reducing the incidence of these horrible diseases.

Smallpox alone reportedly killed more than 500 million people last century but was eradicated by 1980. Polio has not been stamped out, but the number of cases worldwide is now relatively small.

As adults, people can choose not to be vaccinated. However, when it comes to making decisions on behalf of their children the issue is more problematic.

A close friend of mine almost lost her baby boy when he came into contact with an older child who hadn’t been immunised. She says her baby was still too young to be vaccinated and contracted whooping cough from the other child. Her baby fought valiantly for weeks and eventually survived but it was touch and go. The distressing images in hospital of his desperate fight for life, she says, will last with her and her husband forever.

Many governments rightly have a ‘no jab no play’ policy in early childcare centres and kindergartens. The health risk unvaccinated children pose to babies is extremely high as my friends can attest. The tragedy is that these diseases are preventable but because some people have a laissez faire attitude, some diseases, including measles are making a comeback in various parts of the world. This shouldn’t happen.

The appalling death toll in India, Britain, Europe and the Americas should be a warning about the dangers of the coronavirus. We have been incredibly blessed in this part of the world with few deaths and infections but that is no reason for complacency.

I’ve always believed in the efficacy of immunisation and the common sense strategies implemented by health organisations. Vaccination programs are not about taking away our rights and freedoms. They are about saving precious lives and protecting our most vulnerable, the young and the elderly foremost.  

Stay safe and every blessing to you and your families.

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