The revelation two weeks ago that more than 200 Nelson babies are not fully immunised has left local GPs “disappointed”.
Nelson Weekly reported last month that the region’s low immunisation rates meant it missed out on extra funding for regions that met certain health targets.
Many of those who didn’t want their babies to be immunised did so for philosophical reasons, said medical centres spoken to by the Weekly.
But Nelson’s GP spokesman Graham Loveridge says immunisation is a way of preventing nasty diseases amongst children and parents should think twice before decided not to immunise.
“We’re disappointed that parents would choose to not vaccinate because we believe there’s enough good evidence that vaccination is safe and prevents kids from having severe illnesses and, on occasion, from dying.”
Graham says people have forgotten how bad these diseases are because they’re not around so much and the vaccine programme is a principal reason for that.
“A generation ago, people knew how bad these diseases could be and were much more enthusiastic about getting their kids the protection they need.
“Parents often wonder, will they cause any harm to their kids by having a vaccination, but the risks for that are incredibly low and far outweighed by the risks of actually getting the illness.”
Graham encourages parents with questions and concerns about immunisation to get in contact with their local practice nurse to discuss the aim and risks of vaccinating.
To see an immunisation first hand, Nelson Weekly joined 15-month-old Matthew Ferguson as he went in for his injections on Monday.
Matthew, whose grandfather was left in a wheelchair after catching polio, received three injections to immunise him against measles, mumps, rubella, Hib and pneumococcal disease.
While there were a few tears, the bubbles and balloons afterwards got a cheeky grin back on his face.
Matthew’s nurse, Megan Bryan-Heslop says she can’t stress the importance of vaccinating children enough.
“As a medical professional, I think it’s really important that all children get full immunisation.”
Next week we speak with a family who will tell us why they have decided not to immunise their children.