Opinion: Not vaccinating your kids is a form of child abuse

OPINION: In 1796, when Edward Jenner injected pus from a cowpox into young James Phipps' arm, he made one of the greatest medical discoveries of all time.

The discovery was that by injecting someone with cowpox, you could inoculate them against smallpox - a once-major killer, especially of children. 

It was the world's first vaccination. 

Jenner's findings were ridiculed at the time, mainly by the church who thought it was ungodly to inject stuff from an animal into a human.

They tried to discredit him, but they couldn't argue against the fact that eventually Jenner's immunisation all but eradicated smallpox.

Since then vaccinations have wiped out a number of diseases, including polio - another crippling childhood condition.

A number of other childhood afflictions such as whooping cough, tetanus, measles and mumps are nowhere near as prevalent as they once were. 

Yet, despite this, some parents still refuse to vaccinate their children, and of more concern is the rise of the anti-vaxxer movement.

If you refuse to protect your children against potentially fatal diseases that could not only threaten their health but the health of children around them it is, in my book, a form of child abuse.

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children when there is no sound medical reason not to should be held accountable. Don't punish the child, it's not their fault they have stupid parents.

There is no argument not to vaccinate.

Vaccinations are not a medical conspiracy or a way to generate money for drug companies. It is not better for your child to build up their immune system naturally.

Vaccinations do not cause autism. My son is both vaccinated and autistic and there is no connection between the two. 

The only advantage I can see to not eradicating killer diseases through vaccination is in case we get invaded by aliens, who will have no inbuilt resistance and will be wiped out by the common cold. Aside from that unlikely scenario I can't see any other good reason to not vaccinate.

The issue has raised its head in New Zealand again as we face another outbreak of measles. The fact that 26 cases is considered an outbreak these days is testament itself to the power of vaccinations.

While the vaccination rate in New Zealand is good - around 93 percent of kids are vaccinated -  it is low in some areas.

Should we follow the example of countries such as Italy and Belgium and make vaccinations mandatory? Health Minister David Clarke thinks not, telling The AM Show on Thursday he didn't think we should.

There are calls to make sure children in New Zealand get the MMR vaccine after a measles outbreak.
There are calls to make sure children in New Zealand get the MMR vaccine after a measles outbreak. Photo credit: Getty Images

He also disagreed with shutting unvaccinated kids out of school saying it is unfair to punish the child "for the decisions of their parents".

Italy has also brought in legislation where parents who bring unvaccinated kids to school can be fined, which is sensible. France has similar punitive laws and we should do more here than just rely on education on vaccinations to protect children.

Some parents are sucked in by the scientifically unfounded theories peddled around by the anti-vaxxer movement. The movement, like flat earthers or the chemtrail conspiracists, is pure fantasy.

You can't punish people for being stupid enough to believe these theories, but you can punish them for putting their child's life at risk.   

Mark Longley is the managing editor of Newshub Digital