Pauline Hanson recently came out against mandatory vaccinations, stating it should be the right of parents to make up their own minds about whether to vaccinate their children or not. Hanson’s comments, while ill-informed, have brought the issues surrounding mandatory vaccinations back to the fore.
The debate about whether to vaccinate children has existed for decades, however the “Anti-Vax” movement has seemingly gained ground in the last few years as the Liberals have implemented policies like the “no jab, no play” policy for childcare centres.
Hanson’s comments were an attempt to set One Nation apart from the Liberals and win populist support amongst those who have concerns about vaccinations, but they were plainly just wrong.
The weight of medical evidence and historical facts behind the need for vaccinations is overwhelming. The success of the eradication programs that led to the end of smallpox and polio, for example, cannot be denied.
Despite the rhetoric of anti-vaxers, there is no solid evidence that vaccinations lead to autism, epilepsy or other illnesses. This is not to say that a very small minority of people don’t have reactions, but the diseases themselves would cause vastly more harm to a greater number of people than the vaccinations used to prevent them.
Socialists do not deny the corruption and profit-driven character of the enormous pharmaceutical companies that thrive on producing vaccines and other medications. In many cases, they do this with the complicity of governments. It is these same companies, operating in a shroud of secrecy, that copyright and control research and vaccinations.
It is understandable that people are suspicious of these corporations but the issue is not with the need to vaccinate in and of itself, but with the capitalist nature of the pharmaceutical industry.
Socialists say that they must be nationalised and brought into public ownership, allowing the production, research and distribution of vaccinations and medicines to be controlled by the majority for the needs of the majority.
By Denise Dudley