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Why vaccines should be celebrated, not damned

Why vaccines should be celebrated, not damned

An Australian scientist has led a vaccine breakthrough that is being lauded worldwide but largely ignored in local media. Zoe Arnold asks why we're letting anti-vaccination lobbyists stop us from celebrating a major medical milestone.

There's some big news in the medical community this week. Gardasil: the vaccine that prevents human papillomavirus (HPV), better known as genital warts, is working.

It's working really, really well.

This is big news, and a big cross against anyone who continues to argue against the benefits of immunisation.

Gardasil was developed by a bunch of scientists internationally, including Australian Professor Ian Frazer.

Since 2007, all young women in Australia have been offered a free course of the vaccine, to fully immunise against HPV, which is a leading cause of cervical cancer.

And the stats look good — really good.

Since the free vaccines have been offered, the number of cases of genital warts diagnosed in women under 21 has plummeted by 92.6 per cent, and in women aged 21-30 by 72.6 per cent.

But in case you're still dubious: the statistics for women over 30 drive home the point. These women weren't eligible for the free vaccine, and as a result, their incidences of HPV have remained about the same.

Last time I wrote about vaccinations debate was heated from the anti-vaxxers lobby, many of whom still claim that vaccination should be a personal choice, not forced upon us by those in positions of power.

I disagree.

Living in a vaccinated community means my kids and I, not to mention our family and friends, have the best chance of avoiding serious illness.

These statistics are being widely reported and celebrated internationally. Not so in Australia, where the mainstream press seems to be ignoring the news.

This is clever science people, and that our country played a part in the development of such a significant vaccine is something to celebrate.

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