I've been following the measles epidemic in the media with a slightly vague connection.
I'm immunised, my husband and children are immunised and I guess most of the people in my life are immunised too. I have medical professionals within my family whose opinions I've trusted, based on their own research and that of other medical professionals that we also trust.
Immunisation is important in my whānau to keep us all healthy and safe.
I would consider myself a natural attachment based parent. I have breastfed my children beyond two years of age and in public. I have chosen to baby wear my children instead of using a pram.
I used cloth nappies more than I used disposable and I work hard to practise gentle parenting.
I have followed baby-led weaning and co-slept under safe conditions with my children. However, I choose to vaccinate. For me, I can be as crunchy, neo-hippie or instinctual as I want as a mother but vaccinations were always on the cards.
Science has come too far for the benefits of immunisations to be eradicated through failing to vaccinate your children.
But then I find myself here: normally, I'm pro-choice. I have friends who are also pro-choice but choose not to vaccinate. They are well aware of the hate they receive in the face of panic and fear from others. Their decisions, while not reflecting my choice, are well informed and supported by research that they too have spent a lot of time educating themselves on.
I'm not sure I could live in a society where we tell others what they have to physically do to themselves or their own children medically if their own research has supported their beliefs and decisions.
But we are facing an outbreak - and there is also a wealth of misinformation out there about vaccinations that those parents doing their own research would come across.
Herd immunity is only viable if there is a 95 per cent immunisation rate across a community. With more than 1131 cases confirmed across Aotearoa as of September 9, 944 of those were based in the Auckland region alone.
Are the antivaxers to blame? Or is there simply a lower rate of families nationwide who are failing to immunise?
There are a growing number of children who are not vaccinated simply because of poor medical advice, parent laziness, a lack of education around immunisations, failure to follow up with the entire vaccination schedule and falling through cracks when moving medical clinics or cities.
The reality behind this outbreak is that sadly children may die.
For medical professionals to see the unnecessary suffering faced by these children affected by measles is heartbreaking, because it is an entirely preventable disease.
How do we as a nation move forward to educate our communities about the importance of immunisations without taking parents' autonomy away from their own choice to immunise?
Children already suffering from critical medical conditions and diseases are more at risk of death from contracting measles and unfortunately there are children who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons.
Do we exclude children from early childhood education centres, schools and public places who are not immunised? Encouraging unwell and non-immunised children to stay home from school and public places is a start but how can this be policed?
Measles is extremely contagious and can be transmitted before a carrier is aware they even have it, remaining airborne for up to three hours. Simply recognising symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, fever, sore red eyes and a rash can be vital for helping to contain the spread of the disease within communities.
Dr Mike Shephard, clinical director at Starship hospital, is confident New Zealand can eradicate measles from our country.
"When it comes to measles, we have a highly effective and extremely safe vaccine which prevents this infection."
Education and science should be enough to support a continued increase in the uptake of measles vaccines to ensure our most vulnerable and sick are also protected.
Check up on your own or your whānau's records if you are unsure about your immunity and contact your medical centre if any symptoms arise.
We can only beat this scary outbreak if we work together. At a time when the number of measles cases is rising, we need the number of vaccinations to rise as well.
In my opinion regardless of seeing both sides to the vaccination debate, I strongly believe that vaccinating your child benefits not only them but other children as well. It's not okay to not vaccinate especially when facing an epidemic which could have so easily been avoided.
People who don't bother to vaccinate their own children – don't just risk their own children's health, they also risk the health of other children, the elderly and the sick.
• Jane Trask is a Rotorua mother and a former dance and physical education teacher. She has a bachelor of sport and leisure studies and a postgraduate teaching diploma in PE and dance. She studied journalism as part of her university degree and she has always had a strong interest in print journalism.