Following on from a previous post about the MMR debate, I took the decision for my 7 year old daughter to receive the vaccination. So we trundled off to our local surgery, along with baby boy, with my daughter’s ‘I’m not at all impressed with this situation’ written across her face. As we walked down the corridor, the doctor I had seen earlier that morning looked surprised to see me again plus another child. Earlier in the day, I had taken my baby boy in for a consultation because his sick bug had been going on for over 4 days and I was starting to feel mother’s paranoia overcome me. It turned out that he had an ear infection, which was prolonging the sickness. He also had a red go faster strip up his nose due to nose-diving the pation when out in the garden enjoying the sunshine the other day. That combined with his chicken pox scars from 2 weeks ago, and you have a boy very much in the wars. When the Doctor asked how he came to have the nose graze, I instantly felt guilty even though it was an accident and was paranoid that the Doctor was thinking ‘summon the social worker!’ as I described how it happened. So, when she saw me return again in the afternoon she must have thought – what is this mother up to?
Well I was busy panicking that my initial hesitation over the MMR scandal when my daughter was a baby now needs to be over-ridden because she is older and there is an epidemic of measles in Wales. The nurse said “We want to get as many people immunised as possible before the end of the school term before people go on their holidays” (i.e. before people start entering and leaving Wales and spreading the contamination). I love Wales and I can also see it as an ideal setting for a Director’s next ‘zombie virus threatens human race volume 4’ movie. The nurse says, “What about this little chap, are you going to get him done too?”. Before I embark on the real reason why not (despite all the research disproving the autism theory I still think babies and toddlers are a bit too young to receive a live vaccine like that and would be more comfortable doing it once all his key developmental milestones have passed); I give her the immediate list of reasons why not (because it is easier), “Well he has only just recovered from chicken pox, plus he has a tummy bug and an ear infection” At which point he looks up at her with big brown eyes like Shrek’s Puss in Boots. To which she replies, “yes probably best to leave it for a bit then but we will let you know if measles migrates out of Wales into this county”.
We are extremely lucky to have the luxury of being able to pick and choose the vaccinations we want and don’t want. I received a letter from Save the Children stating that one in twelve children in Kenya won’t make it to their fifth birthday and in some regions this is even worse. This is down to malnutrition and poor access to healthcare. Part of their fundraising appeal is to fund more vaccinations for children. In England, we not only receive them for free, we even have appointments booked on our behalf and posted out to us. Some people might call this an example of the ‘nanny state’, but immunisations protect everyone to stop the spread of harmful diseases. I wonder how much of an impact a fully funded vaccination programme in Africa would have, not just on infant and childhood mortality rates, but on the health of communities as more children live and are able to contribute to farming, teaching, medicine etc – AND also stop the illogical dependency on witch doctors and their malpractices (such as their advice to men with aids to have intercourse with a virgin).
I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. Funding vaccinations in developing countries, is one of the many ways Unicef helps vulnerable children worldwide. If you can support the campaign, please visit my page on Unicef’s site.
Thanks for reading.