Health Commission steps up its warning agains


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27-07-2010 08:23 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


27-07-2010 08:23 AM



27-07-2010 08:58 AM

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2010-07-27 08:23:47

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HERBERT, Bronwyn


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Health Commission steps up its warning agains -

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Health Commission steps up its warning against vaccine group

Bronwyn Herbert reported this story on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 08:17:00

TONY EASTLEY: The New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission has taken the unusual step of
issuing a safety warning against a group of anti-vaccination campaigners.

The Commission says the group, known as the Australian Vaccination Network, has refused to include
a prominent disclaimer on its website stating the information should not be taken as medical

Bronwyn Herbert reports.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Australia faced a whooping cough epidemic last year. More than 19,000 cases were
reported and three babies died, including four-week-old Dana McCaffery from the New South Wales
north coast.

Paediatrician Chris Ingall treated the sick baby and says since the Australian Vaccination Network
became active in the region immunisation rates have fallen dramatically.

CHRIS INGALL: They spook many young families into believing them that vaccinations are bad, that
the risk outweighs the benefit which is quite wrong.

Ever since the AVN became active up here the immunisation rates have fallen, we're the lowest in
the state, we have pockets below 50 per cent vaccination.

Those are the pockets where the pertussis outbreaks seceded. Unfortunately it rolls out to the
entire community so everyone gets affected and we've seen that in waves over the last two or three
years and poor little Dana McCaffery was caught up in one of those waves.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The Health Care Complaints Commission has been investigating the network.

It's now issued a new public warning.

VOICEOVER: The Commission recognises that it is important for there to be debate on the issue of
vaccination. However, the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading.

The AVN's failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission
may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to
vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The Australian Vaccination Network spokeswoman is Meryl Dorey.

MERYL DOREY: We already have two of the three items that the Health Care Complaints Commission
asked us to put up on the website and we've had these things up there for years.

The only thing that the AVN refuses to put up on the website, and we do refuse to put it up and
surely this is censorship at its highest level to insist that we put this up, the Health Care
Complaints Commission wants us to state that we are anti-vaccination and we are not, never have
been, anti-vaccination.

We are pro-information, pro-choice and a health safety watchdog.

BRONWYN HERBERT: So you do advocate that vaccinations should be taken when it is appropriate?

MERYLY DOREY: No, we advocate that people make informed decisions when it comes to all medical
issues, including vaccination and that's all we say.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Meryl Dorey says since the AVN is neither a healthcare practitioner or educator,
it's a breach of the Health Care Commission's jurisdiction to investigate the group.

TONY EASTLEY: Bronwyn Herbert.