Childhood vaccinations are a contentious issue in modern day Australia. Many parents worry that vaccinations may have harmful side effects so they hesitate to have their children vaccinated and look for alternatives. In this short book Kaz Cooke offers to help guide nervous parents through the minefield of misinformation and lies surrounding vaccination to make the best choices for their families. She does this with humour and straightforward good information.
I applaud Kaz Cooke for not falling into the trap of calling parents who are cautious about vaccines stupid or bad parents. Many vaccine proponents do this, and all it achieves is to make people defensive and less inclined to listen to what they have to say. Instead Cooke acknowleges that these parents are trying to do the right thing by their children and just seeks to help them make informed choices.
The book is written in Cooke's usual chatty style, with occasional cartoons to break up the text. It provides an outline of which vaccinations are in the standard vaccination schedule for Australia, as well as which diseases those vaccinations are designed to prevent, how contagious they are and what they do to your body if you are unfortunate enough to catch them. It also has a brief explanation of the services provided by different types of practitioners of alternative medicine, such as kinesiologists, herbalists and homeopaths. There is an entire chapter devoted to homeopathy, entitled "Why Homeopathy Doesn't Work." This is bound to put off staunch believers in homeopathy, but anyone who is noncommital but thinking of giving it a try should find out what is actually involved first. You might think twice about how to invest your hard earned dollars in after reading that most homeopathic remedies contain literally none (not a single molecule) of the active ingredient that is supposed to make them work.
Kaz Cooke also runs through and debunks some of the most common objections to vaccinations, including the now discredited Wakefield study, which incorrectly linked the MMR vaccine with autism, and the idea that vaccination isn't natural ("neither are hospitals, tampons, anaesthetics, aeroplanes, men without beards or Tim Tams. But they all can be quite useful on occasion.")
Should You Immunise Your Kids doesn't cover every rumour or theory about vaccines out there, which would probably be impossible, but it covers the main ones and points the reader in the direction of some reliable sources to go to for more information. It's a great overview of the issue of vaccination, set out in plain language aimed at the average Australian parent.
If you enjoy this book you might also like Kaz Cooke's Women's Stuffe-book collection, covering topics such as breast health, menopause and sex, and her books Up the Duff (a guide to pregnancy) and Kidwrangling (what to do with the baby after you have it).