Debate fires up on vaccinations

IMMUNISATION rates across the Darling Downs are at more than 90% but experts say there is still room for improvement, with the desired level at 95%.

In 2010-11, 92% of the region's one-year-olds were fully vaccinated, 94% of two-year-olds, and 92% of five-year-olds.

While some parents continue to refuse vaccinations, Darling Downs public health practitioner Penny Hutchinson said the only time it was recommended a child not be immunised was if the child had an allergy to the vaccine.

Dr Hutchinson said the risk of adverse reactions was extremely low and the side effect criteria for vaccines was much more rigorous than other drugs.

"Vaccines are the most thoroughly researched medications and long before we can say they are effective, we have to say they are safe.

"Unlike other medicines, vaccines are given to well people and the risk of the reaction needs to be weighed against the risk of the illness itself."

She said if immunisation levels drop, protection against the illness in the community drops and everyone becomes at risk.

"No vaccine is 100% effective and if we lost that protection and a non-immunised child gets infected, there is a chance they could transmit to a vaccinated child," Dr Hutchinson said.

Family Wellness chiropractor Donna-Maree Willett said the decision of whether to vaccinate ultimately rested with parents.

"Parents are the ones who ultimately have to live with their decision," she said.

"I encourage parents and individuals to read the literature, search the internet, explore arguments for and against to become truly informed and to make a decision free of emotive propaganda and free of guilt. A great deal can be done to nurture and enhance your body's innate and natural immunity through healthy lifestyle choices, such as chiropractic care."

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said he would like to see complete coverage across the region.

"Parents will make their own decisions but vaccinations have made an enormous difference to the world and I think sometimes people forget that," he said.

"People take their information from all sorts of sources but I encourage people to take the best of health advice, rather than something they found on the internet."

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