Shropshire Star comment: Better safe than sorry

There is a possibility for the future which should send a shiver down all our spines.

It is one in which the diseases and conditions which were so rightly feared by our ancestors, and have been conquered or controlled by modern medical science, start to make a serious comeback.

And it may have already started.

Young children can be protected against a host of serious infections, including polio, whooping cough and diphtheria, by a six-in-one jab given in the first few months of their lives.

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Objectively, the uptake of this opportunity to have some peace of mind is good. In Shropshire, 95 per cent of one-year-olds had the jab, which is in line with the World Health Organisation recommendation, but in the West Midlands the uptake is the second lowest of any region in England, at 92.1 per cent.

You could look at that as comforting, in that better than nine out of 10 young children are getting this protection. Look at it another way, though, and it is more worrying.

In the West Midlands, out of every 100 babies, eight are at increased risk of dangerous disease. If your child was one of those eight, how could you ever rest easy?

There will be a variety of reasons why some children are slipping through the net. If a child has not been vaccinated, that is not just an individual decision or oversight, but something which affects other children and wider society.

The more children who are unable to resist infection, the greater the danger that there could be an epidemic which could spread like wildfire.

A significant pool of children at risk is a health timebomb, yet it can be safely defused through driving up vaccination rates even further.

So this is a message which needs to be driven home. You can understand why people living busy lifestyles might be inclined to put it off, or reason that these are diseases of yesteryear which have been eradicated from modern society and so there is no pressing need to have their baby vaccinated.

But the saying “better safe than sorry” has rarely been more apt.

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