Outbreaks are scarier: polio survivor cautions anti-vaxxers

AFFECTED: Beris Thomae who suffered from polio as a child wants people to know the risks of not vaccinating children.
AFFECTED: Beris Thomae who suffered from polio as a child wants people to know the risks of not vaccinating children. Alistair Brightman

BERIS Thomae has lived through the horrors of not being vaccinated.

When she was an infant she contracted the paralytic disease polio in 1945 which damaged parts of her leg muscles and left her unable to walk upstairs or run throughout her life.

While the 71-year-old is physically active and considers herself lucky, she has a message for parents fearful about getting their kids immunised.

"It's too big a risk not to vaccinate," Beris said.

Her calls for parents to get their kids jabbed comes just days after statistics revealed 8.2% of the region's one, two and five-year-olds are not immunised against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, meningococcal, chickenpox and other illnesses.

It also follows the advice from Fraser Coast's chief medico, Dr Rosanne Muller.

Ms Thomae recalled the time when she breathed with the assistance of an iron lung, wore leg straightening callipers and a raised boot on her left foot - she said life before mass immunisation was not fun.

A priest was called three times to read out her last rites as a baby; not only did she become infected with polio, she also picked up whooping cough and diphtheria.

But times have changed - children as young as two-months old can begin to become immunised against all three and more as part of the National Immunisation Program.

Thousands of children died each year from communicable disease outbreaks prior to the country's first major vaccination campaigns launched from the 1960s.

While Ms Thomae credits her partial recovery to the rehabilitation performed on her as young child devised by Elizabeth Kenny, the development of possile post-polio syndromes still worries her.


Herd immunity: When levels of immunisation in a community are high enough to ensure those too young or too sick to be vaccinated are not exposed to it.

Immunisation levels needed: National immunisation target of 95% to keep diseases at bay required.

Fraser Coast immunisation: Is 91.%, 3.2% lower than the national target.

National Immunisation Schedule: Vaccines administered to children four years and younger help protect against hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, haemophilus influenzae type B, polio, pneumococcal conjugate, meningococcal C, measles, mumps and rubella and rotavirus.

Topics:  anti-vaccination disease editors picks fraser coast polio vaccination

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