In the Weekend West Australian (15 November 2014) the medical editor, Cathy O’Leary, wrote an article titled ‘No-Jab Fears: Alarming rise in parents refusing to vaccinate children‘. In this article it is stated that doctors cannot understand why parents are shunning vaccines. This is an interesting statement when there are numerous professionals and public members presenting the reasons why they are choosing not to vaccinate their children. Public health authorities have even stated that it is the educated parents who are choosing not to vaccinate (NCIRS). This is a significant point that is not being addressed in the Australian media. In the words of Professor Fiona Stanley, Australian of the Year (2003), the single most important indicator of children’s health is the education of the mother (Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Child Health since Federation’, 2001).
In 2010 the West Australian published a similar story about the rise in unvaccinated children in WA and included an article titled ‘Fletcher jab free by Mum’s choice’ (28 May 2010). Fletcher’s mum has a PhD and is a university lecturer but this was not mentioned in the article. She has investigated the risks and benefits of the vaccination schedule and made an informed decision not to vaccinate. Yet the reasons why so many parents are choosing not to vaccinate are not being presented by doctors or the mainstream media. The media continues to report that authorities do not understand why the numbers of unvaccinated children are rising even though the reasons for the rise are stated on numerous websites and in peer-reviewed journals.
Cathy O’Leary’s article uses descriptive words such as ‘safe vaccines’ and ‘conspiracy theories’ to influence the reader’s opinion. In addition, Dr. Gannon, WA president of the Australian Medical Association, suggests that all Western Australian children should be vaccinated with the schedule of 11 vaccines because of the tragedy of the Ebola virus in West Africa. How are these events related? Children should only be vaccinated if a vaccine is proven safe, effective and necessary and each vaccine needs to be assessed separately. To suggest that Australian children should be vaccinated against multiple diseases because there is an ‘epidemic’ of an unrelated disease in another country (for which there is no proven vaccine), is illogical.
Dr. Gannon continues his argument by saying it is ‘selfish of parents not to vaccinate children…’. Yet he is referring to a medical procedure, for healthy people that needs to be assessed in accordance with the individual genetics and characteristics of the child. The recommendation of this medical procedure as a ‘one size fits all’ policy for healthy communities is contrary to the guidelines for good medical practice. This procedure requires informed consent from the public and is not compulsory in Australia. There are many reasons why parents are no longer choosing to vaccinate their children and the lack of reporting and transparency of the vaccination debate in the mainstream media is one of them.
Here is Sarah Chiver’s (Fletcher’s Mother) reply to Cathy O’Leary’s article ‘Fear in rise over no-jab kids’