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May 04 2013

Virus rights

First, do no harm. That’s a good rule for all of us, not just doctors.

It would be a good rule for anti-vaxxers to pay far more attention to. Consider Marita Howell, who runs a daycare facility in Maroubra, in New South Wales.

Maroubra is one of the nine local areas in NSW identified by the National Health Performance Authority as being “at risk” of outbreaks because of vaccination rates of below 85 per cent.

And you know what else? Howell has a son, age 14, who had chemo for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The chemo destroyed his immune system. He was too sick for school, so he was recuperating at the daycare facility. And oh whoops, two unvaccinated children fuelled an outbreak of chicken pox at that facility.

Westmead Children’s Hospital paediatric oncologist Luciano Dalla-Pozza compares non-vaccination to drink-driving in terms of the danger it presents to cancer patients, whose immune systems are devastated by chemotherapy.

“We’ve had deaths (of cancer patients) from measles and chicken pox because it gets in the lungs and causes severe pneumonia,” Dr Dalla-Pozza said. “If you come into contact with kids on chemo, you put someone else’s life at risk.”

Ms Howell was terrified when the chicken pox outbreak swept her centre. “If you don’t immunise your child, for people like Jonathon that can be life-threatening. The thing that kills kids is not the cancer, but the infections they pick up,” she said.

By law, she can’t exclude the unvaccinated children.

What.a.mess.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    machintelligence

    By law, she can’t exclude the unvaccinated children.

    Well, there is a law that should be repealed. Better yet, flip it 180 degrees and don’t allow unvaccinated kids to come in contact with others (with the usual exemptions for those who truly cannot be vaccinated.)

  2. 2
    MEFoley

    Er, when I was a kid in the US, you couldn’t go to school in our town unless you’d been vaccinated against the things that they could vaccinate you for at the time — that was the law.

  3. 3
    Gretchen Robinson

    self absorbtion reigns in this refusal to vaccinate
    their right to refuse to vaccinate trumps common sense and common decency
    and respect for the common good

  4. 4
    speed0spank

    @2 MEFoley
    When I was a kid in Catholic school I don’t remember if I had to be vaccinated or not, but when I moved to public school I remember having to get one or two vaccinations I was apparently not caught up with. I wonder if it might be a state to state law, though?

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