To the NSW Minister for Health
Dear Health Minister Skinner,
Re: ‘Doctor’s unite to smash the anti-vaccine group’ Sunday Telegraph 22.7.12
I would like to bring to your attention the community concern over this article on vaccination. The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) is a consumer lobby group that represents many professionals and parents who are requesting that the use of vaccines in Australia remains an individual’s choice – as it still is in the UK and many European countries.
This article incorrectly states that the AVN is putting out misleading information about vaccines ‘based on conspiracy theories’. This statement is untrue.
The only lobby group discussing ‘conspiracy theories’ is the Skeptics Organisation. Pro-vaccine lobby groups such as the Skeptics, are using websites to attack individuals who present the science that questions the use of vaccines. Many organisations globally are now operating as ‘front’ organisations for corporations and are fighting environmental and public health regulations on behalf of these corporations (Michaels 2008).
I would like to point out that the AMA is only one stakeholder in the vaccination issue and it does not represent all health professionals/consumers and perspectives on this issue. Dr. Brian Owler (AMA NSW president) is not correct when he says:
“I think the name (of the AVN) is deceptive and misleading. People think they are getting information that is objective when it is against vaccination. It is very disingenuous”.
It is not the role of the AVN to put out balanced health information. The public gets its health information from the government and should not need to get information elsewhere. However, if the government isn’t providing all the information on their website then the public needs to provide the missing science and ask why the government isn’t providing this science.
The AVN represents one of many consumer groups in Australia presenting the science that is concerning them. But the government is not investigating these concerns. Parents around Australia have requested that consumer organisations (government and non-government) investigate the science supporting the vaccination schedule but these organisations have actively operated against these requests. One example of this is the NSW HealthCare Complaints Commission (HCCC).
The HCCC acted on a complaint by the Skeptics subscriber Ken McLeod to charge the AVN with putting out misinformation even though the HCCC’s remit is to investigate consumer concerns on health issues. Consequently the charge was dropped after 2 years (and a court battle) but only after the media had smeared this organisation and misrepresented it to the public.
The Skeptics awarded Ken McLeod the ‘Skeptics Thornett Award” in 2010 for making the complaint to the HCCC and this included $1000 in prize money.
It is subscribers of the Skeptics organisation who are putting out misinformation on their websites and blogs and Dr. Owler’s comment applies more aptly to this organisation. Please visit my website at www.vaccinationdecisions.net for evidence of this misinformation and please email me with any requests for further evidence.
Consumers would like to be heard on the issue of ‘choice in the use of vaccines’ and they have a right to be fully informed. I have placed on my website the information that shows that herd immunity due to vaccines did not control infectious diseases in the 20th century.
The community would like the government to provide evidence for the necessity to link $2,100 in welfare benefits to fully vaccinating a child with 12 vaccines and the requirement to get a doctor’s signature on objector’s forms to refuse this procedure. We would also like evidence of the necessity for health students in universities to update with 10 vaccines to work in clinical situations. Please provide this evidence so I can place it on my website for debate.
Whilst the government is claiming ‘vaccination in Australia is not compulsory’ this is more in theory than in practice. The government has implemented policies that are pressuring individuals to use an increasing number of vaccines and people are fighting these policies in court. This is a medical procedure and pressuring healthy individuals to use vaccines is against the International Bill of Human Rights.
I hope you will visit my website and ensure that consumers are allowed to participate in this debate with complete information supported by the evidence.
To the NSW Minister for Health