Why do we immunise?
Immunisation saves lives
The World Health Organisation estimates that 3 million lives are saved every year worldwide through immunisation, although we will never know which individuals are alive because they were immunised as children.
However, globally there is a huge amount still to do - 400,000 children still die every year from measles alone, when a safe effective vaccine has been available for over 30 years.
It is important that all children and babies are immunised
One common illnesses such as diphtheria and tetanus are now rare because of immunisation. While polio was declared eliminated in Europe in 2002 through immunisation, the threat of other diseases such as measles and meningitis have not gone away in the UK today.
The risks of vaccination are very small compared to the risks of getting the diseases themselves
Some parents are put off vaccination by claims they hear and read in the press about the risks of some vaccines. In the 1970's a vaccine scare in the UK resulted in a fall in whooping cough immunisation which led to over 100,000 cases of whooping cough and an estimated 100 deaths in the years which followed, with large numbers permanently brain damaged by the disease.
The study set up to investigate the risk later reported that acute reactions did occur, but full recovery was usual, and there was insufficient evidence to say DTP increased the overall risk of long-term damage.
Today, while the theory that MMR and autism are linked is thoroughly discredited by a huge volume of research evidence, this message has not yet got through to a minority.
Deferring vaccination in a child without clinical contraindications carries risks of disease which are far greater than the risk of immunising
Like everything in life the decision to immunise is a balance of risks, but routine childhood immunisation saves lives.