Further to my submission to the inquiry (No. 569) which provides evidence of the influence of industry on medical research and government advisory boards, I would like to draw your attention to the situation that currently exists in Australia with respect to childhood vaccination.
Although it is claimed in our vaccination policies that ‘vaccination in Australia is not compulsory’ this is not the situation in reality. There are now court cases in Australia ruling in favor of vaccinating children even though one parent does not agree to this practice and even though it is not proven to be in the best interests of many children. The USA billion dollar compensation scheme is evidence for this statement.
Coercive practices should not be used with medical procedures because it is known that vaccines cause many serious adverse events in some children. In addition, the government has not devised a monitoring system that informs the community of the actual number of children that are harmed by vaccines. Many children have been damaged by vaccines but they are rarely reported in the media and this represents a bias in the presentation of the risks and benefits of vaccines to the public. The problem that exists in the presentation of medical issues in the media is that there is no indication of whether the information is independent or whether it is biased due to industry interests. Information from medical doctors is also influenced by industry interests (evidenced in submission No. 569) and doctor’s advice can no longer be considered independent. Until there is an open and transparent system of presenting health information to the public then there should be no coercive measures in public health policies. These measures put public health at risk when it is possible that the information we are receiving is sourced from the industries that stand to gain from the drugs.
An example of the media’s control over public behaviour is the article in the West Australian 16th February 2013, titled ‘Mumps alert as cases surge’ by Cathy O’Leary. This article has stated that although ‘the department of health is not aware of any serious outcomes’ of the 19 cases of Mumps that have been recorded ‘most of the cases have not been vaccinated against mumps’. This is qualified by ‘though a few received the vaccine many years ago’ and ‘….most vaccinated people remain well-protected.’ These statements are not only contradictory but the facts cannot be verified as being derived from a disinterested source. As the article does not mention the side-effects of the vaccine (and there can be serious adverse events to MMR vaccine) then parents are given the false impression that the vaccine only has benefits. Fear of the disease then outweighs any concerns about the vaccines even though ‘there were no serious outcomes among the cases.’
Conflicts of interest are inherent in our government advisory boards and the editorial boards of the media and funded lobby groups are also discrediting individuals who present science against their interests.
Unless the public is provided with proof that COI are not affecting the information the public is receiving then any coercive strategies in public health policies are a risk to public health.
I would also like to advise you that the government has presented selective information on the HPV vaccine to the public and this is exposed in a Letter to the Editor of the Infectious Agents and Cancer Journal published 2nd February 2013. Here is the link http://www.infectagentscancer.com/content/pdf/1750-9378-8-6.pdf
This is of particular concern in Australia because we are the first country to offer this vaccine to both adolescent boys and girls yet the benefit of this vaccine against any cancer is unproven. Targeting school children with this campaign is unethical because parents are not being properly informed about this medical procedure and specific contraindications that their children might have to this vaccine.
The International Bill of Human rights states that
‘An intervention in the health field may only be carried out after the person concerned has given free and informed consent to it’.
This principle is not being upheld in current vaccination policies and the public would like you to ensure that this principle is inserted in the draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill to ensure that bodily integrity of the Australian public is a protected attribute.