Education, Logic and Reason. The Vaccination for Ignorance…

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…

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3 Responses to Education, Logic and Reason. The Vaccination for Ignorance…

  1. Sharon Smith says:

    I agree with you totally. An informed decision means putting all the facts out there. Have you read “invetigate before you vaccinate”?? I suggest you do before judging parents who decide not to vaccinate. I think it is very naive to trust that the government is looking after our invested interest and health in society. Why are cigarettes legal yet the givernment put a warning it can Kill?? its all about Money. Measles Mumps etc was on the decline BEFORE vaccinations were introduced. Do more research then offer an opinion.

    • Dan says:

      Sharon, thanks for your comment.

      I don’t believe that I was judging parents who don’t vaccinate just parents who make uninformed decisions.

      I agree with you on the cigarettes issue, personally I think the government needs to ban them or remove the excise from them as they are profiting from the sale quite handsomely.

      I would be interested to read “Investigate before you vaccinate”, could you provide a link to it, I want to be sure I get the correct one.

      As far as trusting the government is concerned, it is not so much the government as it is the medical profession I tend to trust. I know that individual doctors may not always be trustworthy and that the pharmaceutical industry have vested interests etc

      I believe on the whole that the medical industry does have our best interests at heart and that vaccination has been shown time and again to be an effective tool in the war on disease. My wife’s father had polio as a child and was confined to a wheelchair for most of his life. I am grateful that we are free of such scourges in Australian and I would like to see it stay that way.

      Last year I was listening to Dr Karl on Triple-J relating a story from the time that he was working at the children’s hospital in Sydney. He spoke of a couple who had decided against vaccinating their child against polio and had travelled to India on holidays. Unfortunately while in India the child contracted polio, I could hear in his voice how sad he was to have to tell the parents the news and explain the situation to them. That child will have to suffer for the rest of its life when a simple and low risk vaccination would likely have prevented the infection.

      The bottom line in all medical procedures is that there are risks, I strongly believe that the well proven benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. As a skeptic I’m open to discussion on all things but you need to be able to back up what you say with solid evidence.

  2. AndyD says:

    I had a quick look at what I assume is the “investigate” page in question – found at (via Google). VISA, as far as I can ascertain, authored the list.

    First impression – it “almost” has the look of a conspiracy theorist email with various colours and boldings throughout. It is not a scientific reference by any means.

    One of the first major statements on the list “There is a great deal of evidence to prove that immunisation of children does more harm than good.” is cited as (42) but includes no reference to check this “great deal of evidence”.

    On Hep B it says “A 1999 study concluded that “The increase in the number of cases of unexplained neonatal fever seems to be associated with the introduction of routine hepatitis B vaccination on the first day of life”. (60)”

    Note that it says “seems to be”. It appears the link was investigated and dismissed in 2001. How old is this list???

    One of the points listed, 13 deaths from Hib, is cited as a letter to CHOICE magazine in 2002. That’s quality science right there. It might be correct but that’s hardly a source worthy of reference.

    The list draws a link between vaccines and autism a couple of times. This link has never been found.

    Then I zoomed to the bottom of the list and saw it was essentially the precursor to a promotion for nice, warm, fuzzy, do-no-harm, alternative medicine. Indeed, homeopathy is promoted elsewhere on the site. Can I say “CAM-shill”? :)

    I am neither a doctor nor a scientist and these were just the few things on the list I looked at. I imagine someone more knowledgeable than I, in either area, would tear the rest to shreds.

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