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Australia Government Medicine

In Australia, Immunize Or Lose Benefits 680

An anonymous reader writes with news of a plan from the Australian government to cut down on the number of kids who aren't vaccinated. The new scheme will deny family tax benefits to parents whose children don't pass immunization checks. Quoting: "The FTB supplement, worth $726 per child each year, will now only be paid once a child is fully immunized at these checks. Families are already required to have their child fully immunized to receive Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate. Children will also be required for the first time to be vaccinated against meningococcal C, pneumococcal and chicken pox. Children will also be immunized against measles, mumps and rubella earlier, at 18 months instead of the current four years of age."
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In Australia, Immunize Or Lose Benefits

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  • Kinda Risky.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by RobinEggs ( 1453925 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @04:07PM (#38168482)
    Vaccines may not cause autism, but the hygiene hypothesis remains a scientifically valid concern (so far as I know). This sounds like Australians are vaccinating children for everything they possibly can. Couple the heavy vaccination schedule with advances in food safety and constant household cleaning; these kids might have little besides flu and rhinovirus to train their immune systems, and that doesn't seem like a sustainable course.
  • Re:Kinda Risky.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @04:26PM (#38168648)

    Couple the heavy vaccination schedule with advances in food safety and constant household cleaning; these kids might have little besides flu and rhinovirus to train their immune systems

    The vaccine trains the immune system. That it's job.

    Tell me why it doesn't make sense to build resistance to diseases like bacterial pneumonia under controlled conditions.

  • Re:Kinda Risky.... (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @04:40PM (#38168778)

    This is SlashDot. Vaccination is Science. Though shall not question.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jibekn ( 1975348 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @04:57PM (#38168948)
    Except it doesn't. The only viruses that successfully 'get around' immunization are the ones that do it naturally(See Influenza), because that's the way they are, not as some defense mechanism.

    We are seeing anti-biotic resistant bacteria because anti-biotics dont kill all the bacteria, some survive the treatment, and very occasionally then take hold elsewhere to become resistant strains.

    We don't see this problem in our immunological response, because our white cells don't exactly leave bacteria and viruses half dead, or survivors for that matter. Once those antibodies attach, your done. No passing go, no collecting 200$, no passing on your genes so that the next generation can evolve to fight back. That white cell there is going to annihilate you.
  • Re:So (Score:1, Informative)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) * on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:17PM (#38169162)

    By this logic, we should be expecting bullet-proof cattle and thresher-proof wheat any day now, not to mention hook-resistant fish and armored potatoes...

    No... humans pick these things. Also, the turnover rate for breeding new cattle and wheat is astronomically longer than the turnover rate for bacteria. The simpler the organism, the faster the turnover rate, the faster it evolves.

    What happens here is antiviral, antibiotic, or vaccination doesn't kill off 100% of the virus. Some cells tend to survive. If some of the cells are resistant to the 'cure', then the survivors tend to be those particular cells that live to continue manufacturing virions that are less susceptible to the vaccine.

    You may not have a vaccine-resistant virus today, but vaccination creates selective pressures that tend to make ones that are vaccine-resistant survive and reproduce more.... resulting that in the future newer viruses that occur are more likely to resemble the more vaccine-resistant ones, and eventually, as the trend repeats with enough iterations, the resistance becomes stronger and stronger......

    As for "bullet resistant cows" that can't happen, really, because farmers make sure to slaughter 100% of the cows they try to kill. If a bullet to the head or wherever they typically shoot, fails to kill it, they will use another bullet, etc.

    In order to evolve that trait, there has to be enough diversity in the population that there are already some cows that are bullet-proof, or some percentage of the population subjected to the bullet has to survive....

  • Re:Hurray! (Score:5, Informative)

    by nosfucious ( 157958 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:21PM (#38169204)

    Like the right of my child to be school/raised an as risk free environment as possible? Your kid doesn't get to go to my kids school unless you prove he/she is safe. I will do likewise and will provide certificates of immunization, will you match that?

    Nos, you have the right to have your kid immunized, your choice. You DON'T get the privileges and benefits that are bestowed on others that have fulfilled their social obligations.

    Additionally, in Australia, one contributes to publicly available health care via a taxation levy. Those on benefits get virtually free health care. Immunization is a way to ensure that the taxpayer isn't forking out extra to treat a kid for some preventable disease. Which means more money for things such as schools, roads, etc.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:23PM (#38169220)

    Not necessarily. For example smallpox was completely eradicated through vaccination, and polio is well on it's way out.

  • Re:Seems fair... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mhotchin ( 791085 ) <> on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:23PM (#38169228)

    Some people (immune compromized) *can't* get vaccinated, so rely on the 'herd immunity'. Infants 'not yet vaccinated' rely on herd immunity. Also some people who do get immunized simply don't 'take', and thus are unknowingly still at risk.

    The higher the number of non-immunized people, the higher the risk of collateral damage.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by AF_Cheddar_Head ( 1186601 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:28PM (#38169268)

    No such thing as vaccine resistant. The vaccine actually attacks the body stimulating it to produce anti-bodies, you might argue that this produces anti-body resistant bacteria but that has always been the case, if a bacteria could attack faster than the body reacted it survived, also if the body could not produce effective anti-bodies the bacteria lived. This has been going on since bacteria attacked other living things, not just since humans were around. If the anti-body to bacteria battle could produce a super-germ we would have seen one by now.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by Local ID10T ( 790134 ) <> on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:33PM (#38169330) Homepage

    What happens here is antiviral, antibiotic, or vaccination doesn't kill off 100% of the virus. Some cells tend to survive. If some of the cells are resistant to the 'cure', then the survivors tend to be those particular cells that live to continue manufacturing virions that are less susceptible to the vaccine.

    You may not have a vaccine-resistant virus today, but vaccination creates selective pressures that tend to make ones that are vaccine-resistant survive and reproduce more.... resulting that in the future newer viruses that occur are more likely to resemble the more vaccine-resistant ones, and eventually, as the trend repeats with enough iterations, the resistance becomes stronger and stronger......

    That is not how vaccines work. Vaccines don't kill anything. They train your body to recognize and respond effectively to the infection.

    Some very basic info: []

  • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:40PM (#38169422)

    You see those flu vaccines, how they are good for a couple different strains, and there are tons of others they don't protect against? Viruses mutate, and do so very rapidly. Give them something to survive in, and eventually they will mutate into something that no longer resembles the vaccine sufficiently closely for the vaccine to be effective. At such time, a new one must be developed.

    If you inoculate the entire population, or a sufficiently large percentage, you effectively eradicate the virus. If instead, you let those periodic outbreaks flush though the unvaccinated, your probability of a mutation continues to grow.

  • Re:Seems fair... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:54PM (#38169638)
    No in that case you're just an anti-vacc moron. Hope that helps clear things up.
  • Re:Seems fair... (Score:4, Informative)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:58PM (#38169672)

    I clicked through to that.

    You can take your "naturopath" website and interstitial "can't even close it without an email address" ad and shove it squarely up your ass.


    Fuck you, you nutjob anti-vaxxer.


  • Re:Kinda Risky.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:06PM (#38169770) Homepage

    I think his point was that your idea was backwards. If you get attenuated vaccines (which I assume most of these are), you're effectively exposing yourself to several extra things - not less things. If the idea was priming immune systems through exposure, then attenuated vaccines would almost certainly be a positive. If these vaccines didn't do that, then they wouldn't work. And they do.

    healthy from an evolutionary standpoint

    I assume you're not suggesting that we should let people die (or be sterilized, as by mumps) by exposure to serious illness - thus to improve humans through evolutionary processes? I'm guessing you mean (and are saying in a roundabout way) something like "humans evolved with viruses around, so it's natural for people to get sick sometimes and something, something" (ie. you're making a general health argument, and you're couching it on some vague "evolutionary status quo" thing).

    But, again, I'd say exactly the opposite: for most of primate history, we didn't have nearly the varied social contact and mobility that humans have now. All the mechanics of epidemiology have changed in a nano-second of evolutionary time. If we think of "priming the pump through exposure to a variety of viruses", I'd say that - vaccinations and hygiene or not - we are exposed to way more different strains than our ancestors would have been (because our social groups are vastly larger, more interconnected, and varied).

  • Re:Hurray! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bucky24 ( 1943328 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:13PM (#38169868)
    No, it's not. The text you are referencing, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is in fact in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. The Constitution is supposed to be built around these principles, but the text you describe does not appear anywhere in it.
  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:49PM (#38170310)

    anti-bacterial hand gel. That is one of the worst ideas (at a consumer level) ever. Anything it doesnt kill is now immune to the damn gel and has no competition in its enviornment

    I'm presuming you are referring to triclosan containing soaps, not hand sanitizer gels. The latter typically contain 60-70% alcohol, and you're not going to be developing resistance to that.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:57PM (#38170368)

    The rich will immunize because its a smart move. The poor will immunize because its a smart move.

    Interestingly, here in Canada, the 'poor' actually have a higher immunization rate for their children than the rich, because the poor trust their doctors and don't have the time/energy/wherewithall to spend their time with 'herbalists' and other rubbish. A note comes from school saying 'we're immunizing against rubella tomorrow' and the poor sign the permission slip because to them it sounds like a good idea. And they're right.

  • Re:Seems fair... (Score:5, Informative)

    by J. J. Ramsey ( 658 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @07:23PM (#38170618) Homepage

    Oh, sure, because Mercola is such a reliable source. Oh wait ... []

  • Background (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:34PM (#38171230)

    There are a number of things to say about this.. and I will note first that I am an Australian - and I have lived and worked in the USA, in Asia, in Europe (France and Switzerland) and travelled to many other countries.
    Most of the western world see providing some kind of universal health care not as Communism - but as basic humanity AND as a requirement of Christian and / or liberal values. (That is Christians support it - left OR right wing - because its seen as the Christian thing to do - and the left to centre thinkers - non - christian - support it also so most countries have it - at some level - as they can afford. Its just the USA where its equated - to the rest of the worlds BEMUSEMENT - with communism)
    In Australia we have a hybrid system - public healthcare - which is free and available to all (- well citizens and permanent residents etc) and is paid for by taxes and a levy. And a Private system - paid for by the individual.
    Some things are better done in the private system - some are better done in the public. Its not perfect - and we struggle for money... but its not a bad system. On the world stage - it would be one of the better ones. Not the best - but definately in the top 20 - maybe the top 10 or higher again.
    Its not communism - and in fact its good economics and its good christianity.
    I have a fatal disease. Treatable. In the USA - most people with that disease Die. Because the HMO dont like to pay that money. (The USA stats are appalling actually)
    Here - I was treated.... the disease is in remission - Im in the work force - Ive actually paid back in taxes the money the government spent on my.... plus more.... Plus i do volunteer work etc - Ive worked for the UN around the world - Ive become an asset to my society and others..
    So and in fact - my family arent dealing with my death etc - so they are more productive - all up - a huge plus....
    So my point is - the health system in aus - works really well.

    The immunisation is is another example.
    I remember the Polio epidemic. And I've seen the damage polio and measles can do.
    We had virtually eradicated them in australia - and them so dingbat in the UK broke the ethical boundaries and lied - and issued a study linking autism to vaccination. so a number of parents stopped vaccinating. and so these diseases gained a foothold again. And so in the last few years Children have Died and been crippled and gone blind in Australia - where these diseases had been forgotten because their parents worried about a debunked study - which purported to show a LOWER risk of autism than the real risk of these diseases. And the parents were shocked because they didnt know about those diseases anymore... because everyone was vaccinated - we never saw them.
    Unfortunately - the effect of that study lingers on... and parents are STILL not vaccinating (and then are desolate when their children die or are crippled for life or are blinded for life ) and that is why this change has come in....
    Its critical that vaccination rates stay high....
    and there are a small number of people that cant be vaccinated for medical reasons (they have allergic reactions)....
    so to Keep them safe EVERYONE else must be vaccinated because they cant be. I cant go around storing Weapons grade plutonium unshielded in my backyard (in the city). Is it an infringement of my rights that I cant be a danger to others. In part - the reason for doing this is to not be a danger to others.
    Also, as an adult - you can decide to be a nutter and just take homepathic remedies or just pray for healing - but as a child - the right of a parent to abuse the child needs to be limited. My parents used to starve me and have me exorcised of the demons of television. They now admit they were way wrong and believed in crazy

  • Re:Yes there is (Score:5, Informative)

    by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:29PM (#38172310)

    Too many people don't understand how antibiotic resistance works: there's no problem with using antibiotics if you use them as a full-course and thoroughly eradicate an infection. However, since you can't always do this, every time we use them (and in the idiotic ways they've been used previously) what we've done is not wipe-out whole infections, but only kill off say, 99% of them, leaving a harbor of 1%.

    The 1% that survive, then end up restarting the infection - but now, it's the 1% that were, for whatever reason ever so slightly more resistant to the antibiotic used then the entire population. They don't have to be completely resistant - just a little. But now, the next time you use the antibiotics it's just that little bit slower to kill off the population - and if you again leave a harbor, well, now you've just selected for even more resistance.

    Vaccines are very different, because the immune system itself is designed to be able to vary it's response to target mutants. The immune system has a built in evolutionary system to permute through antibody combinations, so it's very good at wiping out not just the things it's seen, but any subtle variants it hasn't. Only a very few organisms can elude the immune system, and they do so by expressing a similar behavior - having a library of proteins they can rapidly shuffle.

    The whole point of a vaccine is that since the immune system is initially primed to the disease, it wipes out most of it before an infection can be established, and natural immunity then quickly destroys variants. No resistance can be formed, because the organism never gets a chance to create off-spring with mutations before the immune system has annihilated it from the body.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:55PM (#38172440)

    Once those antibodies attach, your done. No passing go, no collecting 200$, no passing on your genes so that the next generation can evolve to fight back.

    Once they attach – the next generation evolves from the few that survive because the antibodies didn't attach ;)

    No they don't.

    Look, your immune system is keyed to murder every non-self thing in your body. It's why implants and organ transplants are so hard to do.

    Infections depend on overwhelming the immune system - infecting enough cells that by the time the immune response is mounted (i.e. by the time an antibody which can attach to the pathogen is generated via our natural mechanism for permutating them) that there is an enormous number of virus or bacteria to deal with (i.e. you're sick). Usually, the immune system wins under these conditions (if it doesn't you die and game over).

    Vaccination shortcuts the process - exposes the immune system to the pathogen so that the antibody type needed is already known and remembered (i.e. some base amount of it is always in your blood). When the first pathogen hits, an antibody finds it, binds to it, and the immune system almost immediately produces a huge amount of the exact right antibody - the infection never takes hold.

    But that isn't all that happens: because the infection can't take hold, the infection never gets a chance to mutate from reproducing. And any mutations present are unlikely to be dramatic - that is to say, while surviving 1% longer might be the start of an evolutionary path way to resisting the antibodies (say, taking slightly longer to bind, or producing a weaker binding) - if that mutation never gets a chance to become an established infection then it simply doesn't matter - it's just as dead. And because the immune system is also permutating around the core motif, any minor variation is incredibly likely to be just as easily destroyed.

    Most viruses and bacteria simply can't rapidly change their structure - there's a big energy cost to it, or it's too great an evolutionary gap to jump (i.e. there's no pathway which lets them have 100% resistance immediately - which means that, without becoming established infections, they might as well be completely non-resistant).

  • Re:Seems fair... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @12:03AM (#38172488)

    Yeah, a tyranny when children aren't forced to die of childhood ailments that are easily preventable because their parents are either misguided or outright ignorant.

    I understand the slippery slope argument, but there has to be a line somewhere; we can't just let people do whatever they fuck they want to their children in the name of liberty. What about the liberty of the child? Using that logic, children are slaves to the whims of their parents, no matter what; their property to do with as they please. Clearly that's not the case; children have rights, too, and of those rights, the right to a safe and healthy childhood is paramount. Just as the state will not allow parents to beat their children, they will not allow their ignorance to be used as a legitimate reason to deny medical care. There is plenty of case law here in the United States that specifically reinforces these issues, and I expect Australia is no different.

    The real question is whether the courts view denying vaccinations to be equivalent to denying proper medical care. This is a gray area, just like many aspects of raising a child. Most of the time the state takes the hands off approach you espouse. For instance, nutrition. Judging by the sheer number of morbidly obese children I see every day, and the growing obesity epidemic here in America, you tell me: Is it appropriate to allow a parent to let their child overeat to the point where they are extremely unhealthy? [] A child can't make this decision for themselves, and even if they could, there's nothing a child can do if their parents are morbidly obese themselves and refuse to change their own lifestyle. I see 8-year-old's in McDonald's that must weigh 100 pounds shoveling Big Macs in their mouths right alongside their 300 pound mothers and fathers and it kills me. What about religion? Is it right that a parent is allowed to raise a child like these kids in the Westboro Baptist Church? []

    While it bothers me that this shit goes on, I understand that personal liberty is important, and I agree that it's best that the government mind it's business as it were unless the cases are severe (although obviously severity is up to personal interpretation; the two linked videos fit my criteria for severe), vaccination is not just for the individual, it is for the group. Every parent that decides they don't want to vaccinate their child not only risks the life of their child but everyone they potentially come into contact with. There are people with compromised immune systems or other illnesses that would, but aren't able to, take certain vaccines, and because you just "don't trust it" for whatever random reason you have, your child could potentially facilitate their death. Measles, which has 60-70 cases a year typically, has 214 cases currently, due largely to unvaccinated children that could have otherwise been vaccinated. []

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN