Scope 46 - In the Media: Vaccination

25 October 2011, Infectious and Parasitic Diseases

With the vaccination debate again hitting the headlines with the recent outbreak of measles in Auckland, we feel it is important to note that, as an immunology research institute, the Malaghan Institute strongly advocates for the practice of vaccination in our communities.

Vaccination as we know it today has been around since the early 1800’s when Edward Jenner used cowpox to vaccinate against the much deadlier smallpox virus.  The premise behind his work was to expose patients to a small dose of the less harmful virus thereby spurring the body to mount an immune response, so that if exposed to small pox, a much lesser infection occurred and was not fatal. 

Today, vaccines have been developed to combat many diseases that would otherwise cause a dangerous level of illness and even death.  These include measles, rubella, pertussis and influenza.  The controversy over the safe use of vaccines has been a modern development with concerns being raised about the correlation of the rise in autism and childhood cancers to the prolific use of vaccines today.  To date, no credible research has been published that proves this causal link.

The Malaghan Institute conducts research based on the immune system and as such, we believe in using the power of our own bodies to fight infection.  We also believe the immune system can be manipulated to provide a better defence against disease than if left to its own devices – a clear example of this is vaccination.  The Institute wholeheartedly agrees with the science behind vaccination and would encourage all people, parents in particular who are considering vaccination for their children, to carefully research whether or not  the risks of side effects of vaccination outweigh the risks of the getting the full infection.  When carefully considered in this way, vaccination is the clear winner.