Parents not falling for anti-vax conspiracy theories
MALINDA Leary has seen the damage dangerous conspiracy theories can have on children's health and she is proud Mackay parents are not falling for the same traps.
The Slade Point Medical Centre general practitioner said the region's high vaccination rate was the reason why a whooping cough cluster in June had not ended in tragedy.
"When this illness emerged in the Mackay region recently, there were no deaths or even severe complications and the outbreak was quickly controlled thanks to the foresight of our wonderful local parents, who had already vaccinated their children," Dr Leary said.
"I will never forget meeting a 10-year-old girl who had developed permanent brain damage from whooping cough after her parents refused to vaccinate her in the first 10 years of her life."
While that incident was in a different state, Dr Leary said the lessons for parents were the same.
A study of the health of 22,000 children in the Mackay Hospital and Health Services region in 2020 found the region had a 94.4 per cent vaccination rate for its five-year-olds, matching the statewide average.
Mackay has also maintained a high vaccination rate of one-year-olds since 2018, when it had the highest percentage of one-year-olds vaccinated in the state.
Dr Leary said while there was a risk of adverse effects with any medical treatment, vaccines were key to protecting children and vulnerable people against life-threatening illnesses.
"This gives our kids the best chance to thrive and also protects the vulnerable members of our community who do not respond to vaccination, or are prone to infections due to conditions affecting our immunity, such as pregnant mums," she said.
Mackay's five-year-old vaccination rate was slightly below Central Queensland and Townsville hospital and health service region, which had 95.6 per cent and 96 per cent vaccination rates respectively.