The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health
University of Wollongong
19 September 2016
Dear Professor Alison Jones,
As I await your response to my previous email (16 September 2016) I would like to address the comments about immunisation that have been promoted by the University of Wollongong (UOW) on its website. I note that you have signed your name, with 60 other academics, to the personal opinion made by Heather Yeatman in her professional capacity. However, it is necessary to point out that Heather Yeatman’s expertise is in nutrition, as President of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), and not immunisation, and she has made misleading and unsupported statements about immunisation in her comment.
Heather Yeatman’s comment was published on the UOW website on the 18 January 2016 – one week after my PhD was published on the UOW website. My PhD is a critique of the Australian government’s immunisation policies and yet her comment does not address the evidence I have presented in my in-depth study of Australia’s immunisation policies. I also note that you have supported her comment without reading my thesis. You have stated:
“From what I’ve seen of the thesis it doesn’t represent the views of a science evidence-based approach” (Australian Skeptics Inc lobby group website).
Again, you have not provided any evidence for your claim that my research is not evidence-based and this is contradicted by the examiners and professors supporting my research. I will outline below the unsupported statements made in Heather Yeatman’s personal opinion of immunisation that you have supported. Unless these comments can be supported with evidence UOW academics are endangering human health by signing their names to this comment. This political strategy of UOW in promoting this comment has enabled lobby groups, such as the Australian Skeptics Inc group, to promote personal opinions of immunisation instead of researched information.
Here are the incorrect or unsupported statements made by Heather Yeatman (in bold below). The evidence for my comments is provided in my PhD thesis:
- “Immunisation protects children and saves lives” . This generalisation is incorrect. Some children do not gain immunisation from vaccines and the adverse events (AE’s) to vaccines are under-reported in the population (PhD thesis Chapter 7). Until an accurate figure of AE’s is determined this statement is misleading and harmful to children’s health.
- “For more than 50 years children have been immunised and it is one of our best success stories in public health”. This is incorrect. Vaccination campaigns started 50 years ago but they were voluntary and only recommended for one or two diseases at the time (PhD thesis Chapter 2 and 3). The schedule gradually increased but the government did not begin enforcing vaccination campaigns for multiple diseases until 1990 – after the diseases were controlled (Professor Fiona Stanley – Australian of the Year 2003) and childhood chronic illness increased at the same time as the use of vaccines increased. Correlation is not causation but this link has never been investigated. The most successful story in the control of infectious diseases was public health reforms – hygiene, sanitation and nutrition (Public Health Authorities of the 20th Century).
- “Immunisation provides an important safeguard against infectious disease when children go to school or play with others. Immunisation is also important to protect young babies, for older adults when people are travelling overseas”. This statement is not evidence-based. Governments are not required to prove that a vaccine can create herd immunity (PhD thesis Chapter 6) before it is recommended (Terry Nolan, Chairman of the ATAGI advisory board 2005-20014 and deputy chairman of the NHMRC that directs government funding, stated this in 2010) and vaccines did not control the diseases we are vaccinating against. Further, many people do not get immunity from the vaccine but they do get immunity from sub-clinical infections due to natural exposure – and most exposures to infectious organisms are sub-clinical (PhD thesis Chapter 4)
- “Large-scale immunisation programs began in the 1930’s and gathered pace in the 1950’s”. This is false. In the 1930’s only diphtheria and small-pox vaccines were in use and these were voluntary (PhD thesis Chapter 2 and 3). It is known that the public health reforms of the early 20th century resulted in the decline of all infectious diseases and Australia was declared free of these diseases in 1950 (Commonwealth Year Book of Australia). A whooping cough vaccine that was considered “safe” was not introduced until 1953 and this was used in voluntary vaccination programs, without coercion, until 1990.
- “According to the Australian Government website…..this [immunisation programs] has led to a 99% drop in deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases”. This is false. Professor Fiona Stanley states “Infectious diseases fell before widespread vaccination was implemented” (Stanley 2001 Child Health since Federation p378).
- Heather Yeatman’s comment states, with reference to immunisation programs, it is “One of the highest impact and cost-effective public health interventions…..” (PHAA). This claim is false. The cost-effectiveness of vaccines is being determined by mathematical modelling that under-represents or fails to represent any adverse events (PhD thesis Chapter 4 and 7). The models use the assumption that AE’s are “rare” and this is a false assumption. AE’s have not been properly monitored because pharmaceutical companies sponsor the research (even government funded research) and they are influencing the design of the clinical trials – a critical factor in the outcomes (PhD thesis Chapter 6). The post-marketing surveillance of AE’s is being done by government regulators, such as Australia’s TGA – a body that is 100% funded by industry. The media promotes the “claimed’ benefits of vaccines based on research funded by pharmaceutical companies and it downplays the risks because these have never been properly determined by industry funded research and surveillance.
The concerned global community would like you to respond to this evidence to ensure that UOW academics are not endangering population health with unsupported opinions. Please could you ensure that inaccurate information on immunisation is removed from UOW’s website if it cannot be supported with evidence.
Judy Wilyman PhD
The Science and Politics of Australia’s Vaccination Policies.