By Megan Hughes
REJECTION of a State Government bill targeting unvaccinated children on Wednesday night has reignited controversy.
The "No Jab, No Play" bill would have allowed child carers to refuse access to children who weren't vaccinated, or force their parents to get a conscientious objection letter signed by a GP.
Vaccination rates are alarmingly low in certain regions of Queensland including the Sunshine Coast, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Australia.
Parliament was divided by this bill.
Sunshine Coast independent Peter Wellington supported it, but Gladstone Independent Liz Cunningham did not.
Director of Central Queensland Public Health Unit Dr James Smith believes that vaccinations are an important part of public health.
"From a public health perspective to have records of vaccinations for children who go to child care, so if one has a preventable disease it's much easier knowing what to do," he said.
"There's a concept called herd immunity, when a single person is vaccinated there's protection, but when the majority of people are vaccinated the disease struggles to find a host to go to."
A common trend Dr Smith has seen is that people believe that immunisation isn't necessary because the disease isn't as common.
"People think that they don't need to vaccinate their kids because these diseases aren't as common, but they only circulate less because lots of people are vaccinated," he said.
"We are constantly at risk from diseases overseas because their vaccination rates are less."
For parents weighing the pros and cons of vaccinating Dr Smith said parents should focus their sights on reputable sources.
"It can be a difficult issue and there is a huge amount of information from disreputable sites," he said.
"Parents should focus their research on Government websites like Queensland Health or the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance."
The side effects of vaccination have been a cause of controversy between anti-vaccination lobbyists and health professionals.
There is absolutely no vaccination, orthodox or otherwise, that is 100% reliable.
Dr Smith believes that the benefits outweigh the side effects.
"No vaccines are 100% safe, vaccines can have side effects to certain people - generally they're mild and rarely will be severe," he said. "The benefits of vaccines vastly outweigh the negative effects."
Recipient of the Queensland Naturopathic Association inaugural Excellence in Naturopathy Award Robert Coran agrees side effects have caused controversy.
"It's controversial as to what these side effects are. There are ones recorded where people have had brain damage," he said. "And nobody knows for sure that autism and auto-immune diseases are correlated or not."
He believes that no vaccination, orthodox or homeopathic, is totally effective.
"There is absolutely no vaccination, orthodox or otherwise, that is 100% reliable," Mr Coran said.
The only alternative to orthodox vaccinations are homeopathic vaccinations which are difficult to access.
"When people come to me I give them the pros and cons and the alternatives," he said.
"Most people do have conventional vaccinations and these people should see a good homeopath or naturopath in a private practice before and after to get homeopathic medicine which significantly reduces the side effects."
JO Noonan believes that vaccinations do more harm to our bodies than good.
After having her third child Jo requested a safety information sheet regarding what went into vaccinations but was surprised when she learnt that they didn't have one on hand.
"To not have a safety information sheet, it set off alarm bells," she said. "I went home to research for myself and was very shocked with what I found."
Jo read many books on both sides of the argument so she could make an informed decision and her research rendered her speechless.
"The list for me personally was horrendous and an insult to our intelligence," she explained. "They give you the technical term and you assume it's good for you, but when you actually learn what it is, it's shocking."
Her research uncovered vaccinations contain mercury, formaldehyde, aluminium and aborted foetus pieces - and much more.
"They know that mercury isn't good for you. Gladstone people know that aluminium is bad," she said.
"But the biggest one for me is aborted baby pieces; it's against everything I stand for."
I'd like to see the government not swayed by a conflict of interest.
Jo's has had bad experiences with doctors on this topic.
"A couple of doctors said what they had been told by vaccine companies," she said.
"They have their backs up and there's a lot of fear tactics."
Instead of vaccinating Jo believes that clean air, water and food can lead to a healthy life.
"My belief is that good health cannot be a result of introducing toxins to the body," she said.
"It's not just about putting the good stuff in, but also getting the bad stuff out, by detoxing."
A government that isn't biased and money being spent on education is a future that Jo would like to see.
"I'd like to see the government not swayed by a conflict of interest," she said.
"And to use taxpayers' money to educate everyone about natural hygiene and good healthy eating."
Jo recommends that parents get educated before making decisions.
"Please inform yourselves with both sides equally," she said.
"It will mean many hours of research, but it is time well spent. Your children are worth it."
Shelley and Tom Hilton have had no regrets in deciding to vaccinate their children Ben and Annabelle. Mike Richards GLA140214IMMU
FOR Shelley Hilton immunisation isn't just for the health of your kids, but for the good of the community.
Shelley believes that choosing to vaccinate your children is the right thing to do.
"I chose to vaccinate because it's the responsible thing to do to protect them," she said. "It's also responsible from a community perspective.''
Her concern is that with the less people who vaccinate diseases will return.
"It's like a kink in a chain," she said.
"The old diseases that used to kill a very high percentage of children will come back."
The decision to vaccinate for Shelley wasn't a hard one.
"I work in public health and I have a degree in public health so I was fairly knowledgeable about the risks and benefits," she said.
"It was an educated no-brainer really."
Shelley is disenchanted the Government didn't push through the 'No Jab, No Play bill on Wednesday.
"It's a little bit disappointing," she said.
"But I do understand that there are families and children who can't actually be vaccinated."
It's not just the health of their children, it's for the community and for the vulnerable who can't be vaccinated.
Letting her children play and associate with children who haven't been vaccinated isn't a concern for Shelley.
"Realistically it happens all the time," she said. "It's more important when they're babies because there's a period of time when they can't be vaccinated and with the resurgence of whooping cough it's very evident."
However the spreading of preventable diseases is a concern for Shelley.
"Because of the whooping cough epidemic they've brought the vaccine forward and provided parents and caregivers a booster shot, which we took advantage of," she said.
"It lets the community down and exposes them to preventable diseases, which would be preventable if everyone was immunised."
Shelley recommends parents thoroughly research vaccinations before deciding.
"It's good to do their research and be comfortable with the program," she said.
"It's not just the health of their children, it's for the community and for the vulnerable who can't be vaccinated."
Shelley stresses the research also needs to be balanced.
"It's important that people do their research in a balanced way," she said.