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Guest Column

Leading the Herd

By A/Prof Christopher Blyth, Infectious Diseases Paediatrician, PMH. Tel 9340 8606

“So what about influenza vaccines?” Young children, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are greatest risk from influenza. Hundreds of West Australians are hospitalised with influenza each year and many die of influenza-related complications. Immunisation is the most effective way of preventing influenza. The effectiveness of influenza vaccines vary each year depending on the circulating strains. In general, an influenza vaccine will prevent 2 out of 3 children and adults from getting influenza. The significant adverse events seen in 2010 following immunisation with one brand of influenza vaccine (CSL FluVax) resulted in many losing confidence in influenza vaccination. It also highlighted the need for a comprehensive and coordinated vaccine safety system in WA. Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance (WAVSS; www.health. wa.gov.au/vaccination/wavss.cfm) was created to identify, review and report adverse events following all vaccinations. The high number of reactions following influenza vaccination has not been observed in Western Australia since 2010 and public confidence in influenza vaccination is returning. It is recommended that young children, particularly those with with underlying medical conditions, receive influenza vaccination but should not receive the CSL FluVax. O Author declaration: no competing interests.

ll o P e

Vaccination and ‘Herd Immunity’

Of the 72 specialists who responded in our latest E-Poll, there was overwhelming support for this promotion of vaccination.

Q

‘Herd immunity’ is said to decrease the circulation of some preventable viral infections in our community. All considered, should this be promoted by the profession as a reason for parents to vaccinate their child/children? Yes

89%

No

5.5%

Uncertain

5.5%

medicalforum

Dr Katie Attwell, PhD, is taking the immunisation message to the vax sceptics.

D

octors, you have a problem. Some of your patients think you are on the payroll of Big Pharma, seeking to fill their children’s bodies with toxic chemicals, so they won’t let you immunise their children. Your problem is increasingly becoming everyone’s problem as vaccine-preventable diseases return. Perhaps you feel powerless to challenge the phenomenon of parents thinking they know your job better than you do. The Immunisation Alliance of WA seeks to support your professional integrity and protect public safety by promoting immunisation. We believe that a decline in herd immunity will have devastating consequences. We’re a not-for-profit organisation made up of parents and health professionals, funded by donations, the WA Health Department and industry. In 2013, we will be implementing the “I Immunise” campaign targeting low immunisation rates in the Greater Fremantle area. I proposed this campaign to the Alliance after realising that the informal “caring circle” I had joined after having a homebirth was a biohazard, putting my newborn son at risk of infectious disease.

advertisements, for a month-long campaign that will also target social and traditional media. A website will provide additional information. The posters feature beautiful, natural parents and list their credentials as breastfeeders, homebirthers, vegetarians, organic eaters and more, simultaneously stating their support for immunisation. The role models in the “I immunise” campaign will de-couple non-vaccination from ethical parenting practices. Please help us by displaying the posters when they’re produced; not just on your notice board but also in your treatment rooms. Talk to your patients about them, and don’t assume that all ‘alternative’ folks are anti-vax. Some may turn out to be our greatest supporters, and can be directed to the Alliance to get involved. The Alliance is conducting research as to the efficacy of the campaign, and its applicability for roll-out in Denmark and

Humans are herd animals. I was taught about cloth nappies by my homeQThe I Immunise posters that will be displayed in communities in Fremantle, birthing friends. I Denmark and Margaret River. was encouraged to home-birth by my natural-birthing friends. Margaret River. If you are in these areas These practices are packaged together to or greater Fremantle, please publicise this form a collective mentality and, ultimately, research to your patients who are concerned a stereotype. Unfortunately, not vaccinating about immunisation (see above). It is an is framed within this community as opportunity for them to have their views virtuous. Outsiders unwittingly buy into taken seriously. They will also be able to this stereotype; my fantastic GP and my advise us on how to best target local State MP both expressed surprise that the campaign. I was pro-immunisation. The “I Immunise” project can be The “I Immunise” campaign is a series contacted on 0421 925 775. Please ‘Like’ us of posters targeting the alternative on Facebook: Immunisation Alliance WA. community. These posters will be displayed Email us at i.immunise@gmail.com. We long-term in your surgeries, maternity welcome doctors in our Facebook group hospitals, child health clinics, schools, (and our committee) to help swimming pools, libraries and private counter misinformation. O businesses. They will also appear on billboards, bus shelters and newspaper 33

Medical ForumWA 08/13 Public Edition  

WA's Independent Monthly for Health Professionals - Public edition.

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