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AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton, Today, Channel 9, 21 May 2013

21 May 2013

Transcript:      AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton, Today, Channel 9, 21 May 2013

Subject:           Immunisation

LISA WILKINSON: Well, new laws will be introduced to the New South Wales Parliament today to prevent children who have not been immunised from attending pre-schools and childcare centres. But many parents are divided on the issue. So for the facts, we're joined by the President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Steve Hambleton.

Good morning to you.

DR STEVE HAMBLETON: Good morning.

LISA WILKINSON: Let's start if we could by looking at some of the statistics. In the first six years after the introduction of the polio vaccine, more than 150,000 cases of polio were prevented. That saved 12,500 deaths. Is there a risk that parents who choose not to vaccinate their child bring eradicated diseases back into Australia?

DR STEVE HAMBLETON: Well, they certainly are because Australia's part of the globe now and we have people travelling all over the globe very quickly, and we see measles coming in regularly on aircrafts. Well, certainly, polio - we hope doesn't come back here, but it was a scourge in Australia that led to entire hospitals being built to look after polio. So it's something we've actually forgotten.

And we are part of the world. These diseases do exist and they do come back on to our shores.

LISA WILKINSON: You've touched on measles. In Australia, 95 per cent of people who receive the measles vaccination are immune to the disease, but what are the risks for those who aren't vaccinated?

DR STEVE HAMBLETON: Well, measles is a very, very serious disease and it actually leads to a lot of complications. And it's something like 15 per cent of people who get measles will actually end up with pneumonia. Another one in 1000 of those people will get encephalitis, and 10 to 15 per cent of those people will actually die from that. Remember that, in the measles vaccine, there's mumps as well and something like one in 200 people used to get mumps.

Rubella is a disease we've forgotten about, but rubella used to cause all sorts of birth abnormalities if you were infected at the wrong time in pregnancy. Something like 90 per cent of foetuses were affected if you were affected early in the pregnancy. We don't want to see any of these things come back.

LISA WILKINSON: Dr Hambleton, vaccination is an issue that stirs up so much debate, so much emotion, and there is so much literature out there. What is your advice? Where can parents get the most accurate information on vaccinations?

DR STEVE HAMBLETON: Well, the most accurate information is going to be your family doctor who can spend time with you, ask you about your concerns, and answer those concerns. We've got to be direct and upfront about that because there are logical explanations that actually counteract some of the negative publicity you see and some of the negative ideas.

There are independent publications as well and things like the Australian Academy of Science on the web has produced the Science of Immunisation. It's a very good independent document that we'd refer parents to.

LISA WILKINSON: Alright. Needless to say, you'd be in favour of those new laws being introduced to New South Wales Parliament today. We'll see what the rest of the country does.

We'll leave it there for now. Thank you for your time.

DR STEVE HAMBLETON: Thank you very much. 


21 May 2013

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Published: 21 May 2013