Health experts are growing increasingly infuriated by a new “pox party” trend where ‘anti-vaxxers’ – parents conscientiously opposed to vaccinating their children – are dealing with the issue of immunity by exposing their non-immunised children to children with contagious diseases (e.g. chicken pox, measles), in order to activate/stimulate an immune response.

The controversy of this anti-vaccination movement is evident by the scathing response from Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) Queensland President, Dr Chris Zappala to a recent Facebook post by a Brisbane-based mother, Ms Hollie Singleton, inviting people to visit her son with chickenpox at their family home in Brisbane in order to contract the disease.

In an interview with Seven News, Brisbane, Ms Hollie Singleton explained why she issued the post, citing, “I don’t feel like I need to back down on anything. I really feel like they need to start thinking about how people are educated.” As reported by the Daily Mercury, Dr Zappala slammed Ms Singleton’s post, stating the deliberate exposure of children to any illness could kill them.

“Exposing your children to the disease in the hope of developing their immunity is terribly misinformed” and “it will not benefit them and it will not benefit society.”

According to the Immunise Australia Program, when a person is vaccinated against a particular disease, their body responds in the same way it would after actual disease exposure. Therefore, when a person comes into future contact with the disease, their immune system will respond fast enough to prevent them from developing serious health problems.

The Victorian State Government maintains those opposed to immunisation mistakenly believe vaccinations can lead to autism; that they are ineffective; and represent a plot by big pharma companies to sell their products. Although the Australian Government cites more than 92 per cent of five year olds are immunised in Australia, the remaining eight per cent of children who are not vaccinated, are placing themselves and their respective communities at risk, due to poor herd immunity – an indirect protection of the community against an infectious disease, resulting from a largely immunised population.

In view of the controversy surrounding the rise of “pox parties” and the various health benefits of immunisation, the question remains, “Why do people still refuse to protect themselves (and children) against life-threatening diseases?”

In an article published by The Advertiser, South Australian Health Director of Communicable Disease Branch, Dr Ann Koehler urges parents to immunise their children to protect them against infection from dangerous diseases.

“Vaccination is one of the most important developments in medical history and has led to the eradication of a number of serious and potentially fatal illnesses in Australia, and saved millions of lives across the world.”

In an attempt to reinforce the importance of vaccinations as a means of protection from certain diseases, and thwart the growth of the anti-vaccination movement, the Australian Government will implement a strategy from January 1, 2016 that precludes families whose children are not vaccinated (unable to provide any evidence of an approved exemption) from receiving childcare benefits, rebates and Part A of the Family Tax Benefit Scheme.