MULLUMBIMBY is famous for two things: it’s the birthplace of rapper Iggy Azalea and it has the lowest vaccination rates in Australia.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed the hippie hotspot has a vaccination rate of just 52 per cent, lower than any Third World country and shockingly far below the 95pc needed for herd immunity.
That is why the town, and the schools, are awash with whooping cough.
The one in two parents who do vaccinate their kids also end up with sick kids because the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective — it relies on herd immunity. That’s why the region has nine times the rate of whooping cough of nearby Primary Health Networks.
Mullumbimby Shearwater Steiner School received notice from the North Coast Public Health Unit last week urging parents to vaccinate in the wake of “numerous confirmed cases” at the school.
Steiner schools refuse to publicly endorse vaccination, claiming “it is a parent’s choice” but that’s a smokescreen. Rudolf Steiner himself believed in “anthroposophic medicine” which teaches that “to prevent a disease in the physical body only postpones what will then be produced in another incarnation”. I called the Shearwater Steiner school last week to gauge response to the criticism that the lax approach to vaccination and the lack of herd immunity at the school was driving an outbreak.
“That’s not very scientific,” educational administration manager Bernadette Baring told me. When I responded that herd immunity was scientific and underpins the National Immunisation Schedule, she said “the concept of herd immunity has been discredited”.
So there it is. Scientists, Nobel laureates, the World Health Organisation, doctors — all wrong apparently.
The only people who discredit herd immunity are anti-vaxxers. It’s an indulgent position, ironically borne of the fact the rest of us have vaccinated our kids and that’s why the horrors of polio, measles, small pox and diphtheria are gone.
Whooping cough is the hardest to control of all of the vaccine-preventable diseases and when it is epidemic in a region, as in Mullumbimby right now, it is the youngest and the most vulnerable whose lives are at risk.