Feb 23, 2016

Beware of anti-vaccine cults, doctor warns

Poungchompoo Prasert
The Nation
February 24, 2016

ANTI-VACCINE cults seem to have reached Thailand, as seen in some messages translated into Thai and circulated among Facebook users, a paediatrician said, warning that such a trend could lead to the revival of once-eradicated diseases such as polio, smallpox, diphtheria.

Dr Sutheera Uerpairojkit, also a Thai Breastfeeding Centre Foundation subcommittee member, affirmed that infants still needed vaccinations as scheduled even though they were breastfed.

The best way to boost infant immunity is to solely breastfeed them for six months, after which other food supplements could be provided along with breast milk, she explained. Those babies who were breastfed would have less chance of contracting diseases or developing complications, compared to their peers who weren't breastfed, she said.

Sutheera also emphasised that taking babies to receive basic vaccinations, as required by the health authority, would mean a higher level of immunity among the infants who were breastfed - compared to their peers.

"The worrisome issue is that 900,000 babies worldwide still died last year from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination," she said, citing that one contributing factor, as seen in the United States, was various anti-vaccine cults.

"These "cult" members believe that vaccination will cause illness and hence assumed that infants didn't need to get vaccines and they would be well and healthy. Such anti-vaccine ideas seemed to have reached Thailand recently as I saw the messages, translated from information provided by some US-based doctors who were against vaccinations" she said. This is worrying, she said, adding some Thais were rather too ready to believe them without screening the information.

"I want people to keep calm and get more information or ask a doctor before falling for this information on social media," she added.

One family's decision not to vaccinate their kids would also affect others in the community, she said, citing an incident in the US where one family's child who wasn't vaccinated got sick but recovered due to being older. The problem was a younger child, who was too young to get a shot, contracted the disease, fell ill and died.


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