Last week I posted about a story on channel Seven’s “Sunday Night” program on the issue of vaccination.
I was impressed with the story, it was well written, backed by science and about as unbiased as commercial networks get on a prime time current affairs style program. ( 60 Minutes, I’m staring at you buddy. )
I started seeing promos for last nights program that made me worry, it felt like they might be going to focus on “The Other Side” of the debate. It was with quite some trepidation that I sat down last night to watch the followup.
I was all ready to hurl a heavy object through my TV….
Fortunately for me and my TV this didn’t happen. What I saw last night was clearly an attempt to provide a forum for the anti-vacc movement to have their say while still keeping things firmly based in reality.
The panel featured Prof. Peter McIntyre from NCIRS ( The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance ) and Dr Giselle Cook (apparently the only doctor they could find that was anti-vaccination and willing to appear on the show).
The started with a recap of the previous weeks’ story and then allowed questions from the audience.
The most vocal audience member was, as I expected, Meryl Dorey of AVN (Australian Vaccination Network). The AVN claim to be all about “Empowering the people to make informed choices”.
Their website looks professional (if you ignore the numerous typos) but seems to be largely concerned with attacking the traditional medical establishment and spruking “Alternative Medicine”. There were plenty of things you could buy from them and an easy way to donate to the cause, but I couldn’t see any links to peer reviewed articles or studies.
To me the AVN seems to be all about muddying the issue, spreading doubt and making a tidy profit on the side.
I was very pleased to see that Prof McIntyre was easily able to refute Meryl’s claims and that Mike Munroe stepped in to rebut her as well.
When asked about her professional qualifications Meryl Doyle stated that she has been researching the issue for 20 years and has a brain.
When asked why she provided no evidence for her claims she stated she sent many studies and the names of vaccination victims to the Seven network. Mike Munroe denied that they recieved her evidence and stated that the victims she named refused to speak with them…
Please check out this link to a post on “The Skeptics’ Book of Pooh Pooh”, the poster was actually at the debate and has a lot to say about it…
Here is a link to a post from the father of Dana McCaffery that everyone should read…
The debate ended up with the anti-vacc movement calling for “More information” so that parents can make an informed decision….
This tactic, we need more information, crops up in many areas as a means to create doubt in the minds of the audience. The fact is that vaccines have been studied, tested and retested for as long as they have been around. The risk factors are well known and understood, the information about the risks is readily available.
The problem is that not that there is too little information for parents but rather that there is too much information to wade through.
As a parent myself I can attest to the fact that it is easy to become confused and overwhealmed with all the information that you are bombarded with by friends, relatives, healthcare professionals etc
Unfortunately many parents choose not to read what they are given, they don’t ask enough questions of the healthcare professionals looking after them and their children.
In todays modern, frantic, ADHD ridden, push responsibility onto others culture we want to be spoon feed everything and make sure there is someone to blame when it all goes pear-shaped.
Taking the time to read the information ( Click here for the comprehensive Australian Government immunisation guide ) is probably the most important thing that a parent can do. It might be a pain and require some commitment but to put it bluntly it is part of your job as a parent to make informed decisions based on the most accurate information you can get access to.
If we can put the emotional outbursts aside (which I admit I have a lot of trouble doing) and approach this issue with logic and reason backed up with a
through thorough education then it will be clear what the right choice is…