The Korn Group

  • The issue Australian mums are angriest about

    • May 27, 2014
    • Neer Korn

    There is one issue above all else that gets the overwhelming majority of Australian mums riled. When it comes to the immunisation of children they are extremely vocal and have little tolerance for those that choose not to immunise. This is one area where they seek legislative intervention to make it compulsory.

    Our most recent study The National Pulse 2014, which will be published next week, examines the issues Australians are talking about and how they feel about them. Naturally there were many and varied issues discussed. Amongst the mums in our sample the subject they felt most strongly about was the refusal of some mums to immunise their kids.

    This was viewed as a public health issue and one where personal choice and individual freedoms are superseded by the need to ensure the greater good. The feeling was that mothers that choose not to immunise their children are misguided and knowingly place (their own) and other children in danger.

    Those mothers that were against immunisation cited the unknowns and adverse side effects which may be caused. The biggest concern was the possible direct link between immunisation and the development of autism in children.

    Although a widely discredited view, the claim of a link to autism has stuck since it was first made in 1998. This study was published by British Medical Journal The Lancet and since retracted. The co-author of the study Andrew Wakefield was subsequently found to have acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” and he was struck off the medical registry several years ago. Many subsequent studies have been unable to reproduce those findings and no basis on such a link has been found to date.

    There is a strong feeling across society that we are afflicted with a modern malaise. Many conditions exist in our society which were not prominent previously and for which there is no real explanation. The proliferation of allergies, mental illnesses ADD and ADHD to name a few seem common yet their source unknown. There is a consensus that greater awareness and therefore diagnosis and reporting of these conditions does not adequately explain their proliferation. Australian mums conclude that there must be something in our modern lifestyle to blame, the food we eat, air we breathe or something we are exposed to.

    On face value, blaming immunisation is therefore an easy idea to accept. Exposing kids to the very diseases we are trying to protect them from and injecting them with several of these in one go can appear a drastic measure with unknown side effects. Yet the majority of mums are also willing to accept the expert opinions of medical scientists and conclude that immunisation has played a profound role in preventing illness and death in society. They resent the minority viewpoint. “They’re all believing the hype that these chemicals are causing Asperger’s and ADHDs and all that sort of thing,” said one mum.

    Interestingly there is a strong correlation between a reluctance to immunise and wealth. A report published earlier this year by the National Health Performance Authority shows that immunising children occurs least in wealthier suburbs where around 20 percent of children are not immunised. It seems wealthier mums feel more empowered and educated to make their own decisions regarding their children’s health, as misguided as this may appear to the majority.

    For most mums this is attitude and its consequences are clearly unacceptable. They are angry about the danger they feel these other mums are placing their own children in. They feel it is selfish and irresponsible behaviour and a disregard of everyone else. They would like laws to be put in place to either enforce compulsory immunisation or to ensure these kids are not mixing with their own.

    “If I’m putting my child into childcare I want to know that everyone else that they’re coming into contact with has been immunised against these diseases,” one mum said.  “And I think it’s just crazy. The facts are there to say that immunisations work and there’s crazy people out there.”

    Aside from their own kids they also feel it’s misguided and cruel not to immunise. One mum summed up the sentiment stating: “I think it’s torture if you don’t get your child vaccinated.”

    By all accounts Australians cherish our live and let live society. Each to their own and the ability to express ones preferences and individuality is a core ethos they love and are proud of in our society. This makes their outrage on this issue all the more powerful. They have made their views very clear.