Immunisation debate splits communities
The Sunday Telegraph
May 12, 2013 12:00AM
IT'S A tale of two country towns. Both are set in rolling green hills, both have populations of a few thousand and each has a unique position on the state's immunisation table.
Bargo, in the southern highlands, has the highest immunisation rate at 100 per cent, according to the National Health Performance Review.
Mullumbimby, on the far north coast, has a level of just 46 per cent, giving it the lowest rate in the state.
With every child in the 4000-strong community of Bargo immunised against potential killers such as measles, chickenpox and whooping cough, the worst affliction a child is likely to suffer is the common cold.
Bargo's GP, Dr Tim Rankin, said the town's immunisation compliance was so high because his staff tracked down those parents who had forgotten or postponed scheduled shots for their kids.
"The credit goes to my staff, we chase them down and keep harassing them until they come in," Dr Rankin said.
"We've had some adults with whooping cough, but no child and no measles since 1985," he said.
Carolyn McCorkell, who runs the Bargo Child Care Centre, said: "We don't get outbreaks of childhood disease - no whooping cough, not chickenpox - the kids get an occasional cold, but nothing major."
Katrina Lindley, who is raising her children Jayden, 4, and Tenille, 7, in Bargo, said she is proud the town is so vigilant in battling childhood diseases.
"It's a great thing we have such a high immunisation rate because it makes the younger kids safer, those who are too young to be immunised," Mrs Lindley, 39, said.
"It's just responsible parenting, you have to protect your children, and the effects of immunisation far outweigh the risk."
But in Mullumbimby, with a population of 3000, the unvaccinated children actually outnumber those who have been immunised and the issue divides the community.
The same whooping cough outbreak that Bargo escaped claimed the lives of four-week-old Dana McCaffery, who died in 2009, and nine-week-old Kailis Smith, who died in 2011. Both babies lived near Mullumbimby.
The town recorded an infection rate four times the state average at the beginning of the epidemic in 2008-09.
Local parents said there was a lot of fear and pressure around the issue of immunisation, and the town's homeopath said his professional association had forbidden him to speak on the issue because it was too "controversial".
Dani Ilic's daughter Remy was born in the middle of the 2009 whooping cough epidemic and the death of Dana McCaffery changed her mind on immunisation.
"We just didn't think it was worth going through that epidemic if it could be bypassed by immunisation," she said, adding she is in the minority among her friends.
Sheia Kironn is a mother of two and she not only refuses vaccinations for her children, but she has never used antibiotics on them either.
"I never use pharmaceuticals, we use Chinese herbal medicine," Ms Kironn said, adding she was not surprised her town had fewer vaccinated children than unvaccinated.
"I don't know anyone who vaccinates their kids and most people who don't vaccinate are well educated," she said.
Jacob Johnson, 27, said his parents chose not to immunise him, so he made the same decision for his two-year-old daughter Nimawai.
"I wasn't vaccinated and I've done my own research and come to the conclusion it's not necessary. A strong immune system is a priority," he said. "We do homeopathic vaccination and my friends who vaccinate, their kids are always sick."
He disagreed it was an irresponsible decision.
"I don't think it's irresponsible, I think everyone has the right to their own choice," Mr Johnson said.
Mother-of-three Sam Leader vaccinates her children and said the issue divided the town.
"There is a lot of scaremongering but I believe in science and the evidence," Ms Leader, a writer, said.
Jade Coy only partially vaccinated her children Aziah, 3, and Sascha, seven months, and refused to give them the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine out of fear.
"I went online and read blogs and my brother-in-law swears the vaccination gave his daughter autism," Ms Coy said.
The now-debunked link between autism and vaccination is much publicised by the local anti-vaccination group, the AVN, but the research done 15 years ago by Andrew Wakefield was deemed scientific fraud and withdrawn.
Not that long ago I saw the likes of Sheia Kironn and her fellow Earth Mothers in a supermarket at Byron Bay.Under Arm,Leg and Pubic hair a plenty, protruding from the various orifices .ie singlets and cut down shorts minus bras and underpants.
With their spawn following through the isles shoplifting at will,defying observers with stares and tilts of their malformed "alien heads" mouths resplendent with what passes for teeth,arms and legs I had never seen before,followed by a barrage of gibberish, dispersed with assorted profanities and waving arms and gesticulations to ward off / intimidate those, oh so conservative shoppers,that get in the way of the Labor Green Loon Progressives as they and their spawn rampage through society.
I would NEVER pay money, (or suggest that any one else do so) or visit Byron Bay again as long as I live, based on my last experience there it's an over rated Drug Stuffed Piss Heads Dump. Yes a few good photo ops, drive In drive out, don't pay through the arse to stay there stay any where BUT there.
The Brave New World of Byron Bay,Mullumbimby,Lismore was established and funded by via Social Security payments,the "It's Time" Whitlam Socialist Labor Loon Government of the Seventies, funded by taxpayers as a means to enshrine Hippy Crystal Gazing Green Drug Worshipping Lunacy as a norm of Australian Society.
So many Australian children were drawn into the Australian Council of Trade Unions FUNDED Australian Labor Party's "Hippy Drug Stuffed Utopia" and suffered the obvious consequences of the ALP's and their Union financiers done deal.
Some years later I did not laugh or take pleasure when the then Australian PM and former leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Bob Hawk,was reduced to tears as he described to the Australian media his OWN Daughters dance with his own ideologies manifestations of "Hippydum" and her HEROIN ADDICTION.
Labor's PM Hawk did not ever apologise,or publicly CRY for, the hundreds,thousands of OTHER Australians children,his holy, pious "Progressive" Australian Labor Party,funded by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, policies that facilitated the life ending addictions or instantaneous DEATHS from their ANYTHING goes, all beliefs actions behaviours are equal and without consequence ...........so long as you vote for PM Hawks Left... after all what's more important than that?