Tag Archives: vaccination

I’m sick! Talking about preventable childhood illnesses

I am grateful that vaccinations against many diseases that were commonplace when I was a child are now readily available in Australia.

I am grateful that these vaccinations protect children from suffering the diseases which were an expected part of growing up when I was young.

Thanks to the scientists who studied the diseases and developed the vaccinations, most children in developed countries should not fear contracting diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, smallpox, tuberculosis, whooping cough and others. I look forward to the day when these diseases are eradicated worldwide.

Unfortunately many parents, who have neither witnessed nor experienced the effects of these diseases (due to the effectiveness of immunisation programs), do not appreciate the seriousness of contracting them and choose to not vaccinate their children. In doing so, these people not only put the health of their own children at risk, but also the health of others in the community. Sadly these people are usually misinformed by purveyors of unscientific ‘evidence’. The numbers, and science, stand strongly on the side of vaccination.

This issue is one that I feel strongly about for evidence shows that an entire community can once again become vulnerable to these diseases if enough people reject immunisation. The risk of disability or death occurring as the result of a preventable disease, in my opinion, is one not worth taking.

At the end of this post I will link to various articles and websites that explain in greater depth and with more scientific and medical support than I am able.

The impetus for sharing my thoughts on this issue came from Lisa Reiter who, on her blog Sharing the Story, invites others to share Bite-size memoirs. This week’s topic is Childhood Illness.

I will begin by sharing 10 things I remember:

I remember rushing to be first into the bath, but instead slipping and falling into the pot of hot water that had been heated on the stovetop in readiness to add warmth to the cold from the tap. I remember being terribly scalded and that I was rushed to the doctor. I remember being dusted with powder while I lay on his high surgery table. I was three at the time, so while I have some images that I am sure are genuine, others may be family lore.

I remember a girl in my class at school who had suffered from polio. Her name was Christine and she lived not far from me. She had one boot that was built up, about 4 inches high; and she had iron cages around both legs. She walked with difficulty and a sway from side to side. Interestingly enough my husband, who grew up on the other side of the world, also had a friend who suffered from polio and had a built up boot.

I remember reading about ‘the girl in the iron lung’ and being terrified of contracting the dreadful disease polio.

I remember feeling very relieved when we were given a tiny pink droplet of vaccine on a white plastic spoon. Thank you Dr Salk. Polio has not been a cause of fear for my children or grandchildren.

I remember us all having the mumps when I was eight and my Mum was pregnant with my little sister (the seventh of ten children). I remember that our glands were swollen and our throats were sore. We were tired, headachy and miserable. I remember my Mum got Bell’s Palsy too, and the muscles in her face were affected and never fully recovered. I remember her being sick in bed for weeks and a friend kindly came and stayed to look after us and help out.

I remember having measles and being dabbed all over with calamine lotion to help stop the itch. It was difficult to not scratch.

I remember when the rubella vaccination became available, but it was too late for me because I’d already had it as a child. I remember thinking how lucky everyone was to be able to have the vaccine and not suffer the illness.

I remember having chickenpox during the summer holidays when I was about thirteen or fourteen. It was such a scorching hot summer, or it certainly seemed that way; two weeks of the longed for holidays ruined by this horrible illness.

I remember the chickenpox blisters that started small, then grew bigger and finally scabbed. I remember the pink baths in Condy’s crystals and the strong smell which I would still recognise if not describe. I could never associate it with anything pleasant.

I remember waking one night and finding three neat little piles of vomit on my bed beside my pillow. I remember waking my Mum and her coming and cleaning it up.

What overwhelms me now when I think of all these childhood illnesses that inflicted us with so much discomfort  is the thought of my mother tending to a houseful of sick kids, when she was probably sick herself, and if not sick then probably pregnant or at least feeding a baby. What a life it would have been. One child going down after another, moaning and complaining and needing attention or treatment. I found it difficult with just one child at a time! (There are 12 years between my two.) On top of that she had all the usual household chores and a husband to attend to. Makes me wonder that she wasn’t worn out long before her 90 years! How grateful she would have been had we all been inoculated against these now preventable illnesses.

Thanks, Lisa, for the opportunity of sharing these memories, and thank you, my readers for indulging me.

I welcome your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.


Here are some links to further information about vaccinations if you are interested:

Australian Government Department of Human Services, Immunising your children

My DR for a healthy Australia, Immunising your child

Raising Children Network, The Australian Parenting Website, Vaccinations and autism spectrum disorder

The Daily Life, Adverse Reactions by Benjamin Law

Mama Mia, What everyone’s talking about, 9 vaccination myths busted. With science! By Dr Rachael Dunlop