I have just finished watching a highly anticipated story on vaccination which aired on the Channel 7 current affairs show, “Sunday Night”.

To my surprise and relief, it was positive.

The story centred around the recent death of four week old Dana McCaffery from whooping cough just two weeks out from being eligible for the vaccine. Dana lived in an area of the North Coast of New South Wales where there is a high rate of non-vaccinated children, hence the level of herd immunity is low, allowing for the spread of the disease amongst the population. The tragedy of the tiny baby’s death was highlighted by the fact that she was too young to be vaccinated, but died from a completely preventable illness.

Reporter Rebecca Maddern, emphasised the importance of herd immunity, using the example of a very young boy who had undergone a heart transplant and was therefore not strong enough to be immunised. He relies upon herd immunity as his only mechanism for prevention of childhood ilnesses. Stock footage of children with polio in calipers drove the message home that we need not go back to times when kids were crippled by polio, or died from measles.

In the interest of journalistic balance, we were obligated to endure the opposing view, hence, enter Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network. These people spread misinformation and lies about the safety of vaccination, with no remorse. As professional scaremongers, they go by the catch phrase, “love them, protect them, never inject them”. Whilst I would prefer they are not given a platform whatsoever some of the stuff spouted from Meryl on tonight’s show was enough to make you question her state of mind.

Toni McCaffery; “..I did not want to be seen as a vaccine crusader, I just wanted to be a Mum”. David McCaffery; “Nor is it our responsibility, it’s the responsibility of government and they need to take charge”.

When talking about childhood diseases, including whooping cough, Meryl Dorey said her mother used to just put her out with sick kids so she could get infected, and thereby gain natural immunity;

“You didn’t die from it 30 years ago and you’re not going to die from it today”.

Funny that, when the entire story is based on the death of a four week old girl from whooping cough.

When the reporter asked her; “What if one of your children got whooping cough? (to which she responded they had), “And did you seek help from the medical profession?”, she has this gem to offer;

“No, we treated whooping cough homeopathically and none of us were sick for more than 2 weeks. My vaccinated children got it and my unvaccinated children got it. And none of us were sick for more than 2 weeks and it was nothing more than a bad cough”.

(According to the story, three out of her four children are not vaccinated).

She continued her scaremongering by bleating the much debunked vaccines-cause-autism line;

“The reports that we get are children who have seizures, children who become brain damaged, children who develop diabetes, who develop autism, these are serious reactions after vaccination”

The report only briefly touched upon “vaccine damaged kids” with one teenager explaining he became sick one week after his first round of immunisations, but this was very brief. Mostly, we heard from doctors and scientists, such as a pediatrician describing his heart break at watching a baby turn blue from coughing. Professor Peter McIntyre from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance also encouraged parents to vaccinate.

The only criticism I have of the story is that Meryl’s comments about treating whooping cough with homeopathy were left unchallenged. In my experience, many people perceive homeopathy to be a herbal treatment, and therefore assume it has some medicinal effect. Perhaps this was the case for Rebecca, since she failed to question Meryl about this quackery.

One wonders if Meryl’s children did in fact have whooping cough, since she described their symptoms as nothing more than a “bad cough”. A bad cough is not I the way I would describe the distressing footage which aired earlier in the story, of a baby with whooping cough gasping for air and screaming. I raised this issue with Rebecca in a congratulatory email I sent her and suggested she might like to follow it up with a story on homeopathic vaccination.

In the introduction to the story, Sunday Night host Chris Bath called the vaccination debate “..a wake-up message to parents which needs to end right now”.

Well done Channel 7 for a well researched and accurate story. Please email the show here and let reporter Rebecca Maddern and the producers know that they are to be congratulated for accurate scientific reporting. Also there is a poll on the homepage asking whether vaccination should be compulsory. Please vote here.

I am concerned that both Rebecca Maddern and Toni and David McCaffery may be subject to abuse from the anti-vax crowd as a result of this story.

I have already heard that the anti-vaxers are “hysterical” about the way they and their cause was portrayed in the story. A source revealed this response from Meryl Dorey who described the show as “The most horrible, one-sided report I have ever seen” and “it was even worse than I’d feared“. She ended her rant with “I despair about the cover up, the children who will be injured by these shots and the way in which our organisation and the families who have been hurt by vaccines have been portrayed“.

Time to mobilise the troops. Please help by emailing Sunday Night, voting in the poll, and linking to my blog from Twitter, Facebook or your own blog.

—–
For more information about the anti-vaccination movement in Australia, please see my Dr Rachie Reports blog, the Anti-Vacc Movement, an Australian Perspective.

Toni and David McCaffrey have set up a website in honour of Dana here and a Facebook page here.


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  • Dianne

    Marci,

    Immoral beliefs and thinking like that has lead to Dana Macaffry’s death. You think that is sweet? Shame on you. There are children who have poor immune systems who cannot be vaccinated, children like that have some protection by herd immunity and lower chances of exposure. Unfortunately, due to people like you vaccination rates have dropped and children, maybe not your own, will die from preventable diseases. Not so sweet after all…

    D.

  • Marci

    Sweet! So you mean by not vaccinating my kids, I don’t risk any potential side effects… your kids do and I get a free ride due to herd immunity. Thats wonderful. Do any of your kids have autism, ADD, ADHD, Asthma, Eczma, psoriosis, behavioural issues. Or all perfect?

  • @Amanda
    But there was a bad result, so in hindsight it is obvious that they did not listen to their instincts. Only good results get attributed to listening to instincts, and in this case—as we are talking about Chinese women—if it turned out differently we would not pass up the opportunity of a double-whammy by touting their more spiritual nature and lack of reliance on rigid western dogma. Pay attention! 😉

  • I’m confused, what if the Chinese mothers’ instincts told them the formula was perfectly safe?

  • @Ellie

    Ellie said: “There is evidence that vaccinations are not safe and there are researching struggling to get more studies done. This is precisely my point, we need to research what we can and make an informed decision accordingly. Everybody will have a different decision. What may be right for one chile will vary for an other. One child may have an adverse reaction to a vaccine and the mother chooses to postpone that vaccine in the future to protect her child. These adverse effects are very common as I have seen from my mothers group and friends (who by the way are pro vaccination and I have never ever felt or thought that their decision was ‘wrong’).”

    More properly controlled scientific studies can do nothing but shed further light on these topics so I am all for that. The problem is, how do we decide which studies get the funding? The less plausible ones are considered a more frivolous expenditure of extremely limited funds. The burden of proof lies with people who demand research into their claims.

    Your claim that evidence that vaccines are not safe has at least two flaws:

    One is the definition of ‘safe’. No-one is claiming that vaccines are 100% safe, although this is a common strawman argument used by anti-vaxers. Medicines that work can have side-effects because they have ‘actual effects’ beyond placebo, unlike say, homeopathy. Also, as you have correctly pointed out, human bodies are not all alike. However, risks are a part of life and we are constantly weighing up the pros and cons of any course of action. The risks of not vaccinating far outweigh the risks of possible side-effects.

    The second flaw is that your evidence seems to be based on anecdote (please correct me if I am wrong) which should never be used in place of data resulting from properly controlled scienctific studies. This is one of the main reasons why science works – because it controls for human error and the foibles of our tragically fallible brains.

    Ellie said: “I also don;t think a commercial TV slot featuring a program like the one under discussion is really a valuable place to get your research, If ABC or SBS has aired an extensive debate the quality certainly would have been much higher.”

    I agree completely. A debate however, such as the one this coming Sunday, has the disadvantage of giving exposure to flimsy scientific ideas, making them seem more credible than they may be and spreading fear to the general populace, which is exactly how AVN operates.

    Ellie said: “This is not a personal attack on Meryl Dorey and educated people are familiar with Homeopathy. London has 6 homeopathic hospitals and the evidence is mounting to its success. Many doctors are homeopaths and vice versa. But please lets not get into that debate! I am researching alternative medicine currently and in time will draw my own conclusions be it for or against.”

    No, I would like to address this. You mention that you are still forming your opinion on ‘alternative medicine’, but I may be a little further along the learning curve on this. First, I’ll point out your inconsistency with regard to not trusting authority. ‘Many doctors are homeopaths’ is not valid as you are relying on the ‘Appeal to Authority’ but more importantly it is inconsistent with your insistence that no authority should be trusted. Similarly, your ‘Appeal to Popularity’ is equally invalid. Just because something is popular does not mean it works, or is good.

    I can tell you that homeopathy does not have a plausible mechanism with which it could achieve any of its claims. It fails every single properly controlled experiment. Only when the controls are relaxed is there any sign that it has any measurable effect. This casts doubt on the research abilities of anyone who professes that it is a viable treatment for, well, anything. Yet the Meryl Doreys of the world should be taken seriously on scientific issues? No thank you.

    Ellie said: “And in response to you both…. we are not just mere lay people. We are empowered mothers and humans. You must NEVER trust a person in a position of authority just because of the place they hold in society. This is absolutely dangerous in any regard. Trust your instinct. The mothers in china trusted the formula they were giving their children which killed them, we trusted doctors when they told us breast feeding had no benefit an d formula was just as good, we trusted doctors who said vaginal delivery was impossible after cesereans, we trusted big business that said smoking was in our best interests, politics when we sent soldiers to Vietnam, masses were sent to concentration camps because the public was lied to and to some extent chose to turn a blind eye.”

    You are right that mistakes have been made in the past, but relying on ‘instincts’ is not the answer. Instincts are not a magical ability and, in fact, relying on them leaves us vulnerable to the foibles of our ‘just good enough’ brains. Again, the fact that science acknowledges and controls for these vulnerabilities is what makes it a far more reliable indicator of what is true, and means that the authority of science-based knowledge actually *can* be trusted far and away more than any other professed claims to knowledge. The current scientific consensus recommends that you vaccinate your children. Given that there is no better way of determining whether you should or shouldn’t vaccinate, I recommend going with the science on this.

    Ellie said: “When I use the statement common sense regarding vaccination…. it could well be that these chemicals and virus’s in any doses could be extremely harmful. Why are there so many adverse reactions otherwise?”

    The science suggests that the ingredients of vaccines are present in safe levels, what method of ‘knowing’ are you using to suggest otherwise? If it is a better method, then maybe we should use it instead of science to, say, send spaceships to precise locations in our vast solar system. Please visit this page for more information dispelling the common misinformation regarding chemical levels in vaccines: http://antiantivax.jottit.com/

    Ellie said: “I have presented doctors, homeopaths, websites, stats from Japanese experiments etc etc. Nothing is that mind blowing in conspiracy, is is weighing up effects of disease to effects of that particular vaccine. There are numerous sad stories of mothers watching their child convulse post vaccine, watching them die post vaccine…Many many stories. Much more than the cases of death and whooping cough?”

    The answer to this is rather obvious. So much so that I am wondering whether I misunderstand your logic, or maybe you have not expressed it clearly enough. The stories regarding side-effects which may or may not have been caused by vaccines (as opposed to merely correlating with vaccines) may seem to out-number the cases of death from whooping cough due to the effectiveness of the vaccine programmes over the years, which thankfully make these unnecessary deaths rare.

    I understand that these exchanges are very time-consuming and tiring. I feel the same way, so I fully understand that you may not want to continue. However, I hope other people reading this can see that many of the objections raised against vaccinations are often based on fallacious logic and fear campaigns run by groups who prefer to put their faith in demonstrable nonsense like homeopathy rather than the proven, repeatable results of real science.

  • Oh Ellie.

    I was just about to respond to you with detailed information about the precise ingredients in vaccines and how they are in such small quantities, much less than what you consume in your diet, or breathe in from walking around a polluted city and you sent me that. A link to the AVN. I have been following your posts, but have been too busy to respond because I am researching for the Channel 7 forum tomorrow where the AVN’s Meryl Dorey will sit in a room with the parents of Dana McCaffery and tell them the likes of, “it’s just one baby, what about all the vaccines injuries, we used homeopathy to treat whooping cough”, and other such pseudoscientific scaremongering nonsense.

    I don’t have time to address all your points, but I will say a couple of things. I don’t think anyone here is inferring they obtained their data from the channel seven show, however, I not sure why you see this as a such a big problem anyway – the report was well researched and scientifically accurate. It interests me that you say you would take it more seriously if it were on SBS or the ABC, then in the next sentence correctly point out that we should not trust people just because of the position they hold in society. The ABC are more respected so listen to them, but don’t?

    There is a very good resource explaining all the in and outs of vaccine ingredients etc that you ask for here.

    The story behind the court case in the poster you linked to is detailed and complex, but is not as the headline suggests, that a court ruled that vaccines cause autism. There is a thorough explanation of the case here.

    The statement that “Many doctors are homeopaths and vice versa” is quite simply wrong Ellie. Where do you get your information for this? You do understand that homeopathy is akin to witchcraft consisting of magic water and sugar pills don’t you? It was made up 200 years ago by Samuel Hahneman who believed that the more you dilute a substance the more concentrated it becomes. You mention common sense and instinct in your posts, there is absolutely no common sense about this.

    Regarding the London Homeopathic Hospital, as far as I can ascertain there is only one and the hospital has recently been in financial strife since the NHS in the UK cancelled homeopathy contracts. There is an article about it here, where it says the hospital was considering changing its name to reflect the wider services it offered, since “Despite the name, less than 40 per cent of what we do is now homeopathy”.

    You also state that “..as yet no one has presented me with anything factual, no links, no research”. Well I could ask you the same for this statement; “There is evidence that vaccinations are not safe and there are researching struggling to get more studies done”. Perhaps what you mean to say is there is evidence of side effects from vaccinations such as elevated temperatures, localized inflammation etc, but as for them not being safe? I would need to see evidence for this. No medicine that is effective is completely safe. All medicines that are effective will have some side effects. It’s a complication of physiology, you cannot treat one organ in situ without effecting the other also.

    I thought Matt’s post addressed some of your questions. But I have to agree with him and reiterate “You are clearly someone who cares very deeply about your children’s safety, which is admirable. However, it has to be said that you have been the victim of a campaign of misinformation and conspiracy theories”. The AVN for example are one of these groups who spread misinformation. You cannot protect the health of your child by eating organic food and breathing fresh air. Polio, pertussis, measles and smallpox were once large scale killers, but thanks to the advancement of science and medicine are now well controlled and in the case of smallpox (virtually) eradicated.

    I am happy to answer any specific questions you have about vaccination. I have a PhD in cell biology (this does not mean I know everything just that I can trawl through boring scientific papers quickly), and have also researched alt. med extensively. Please understand, people on this blog are not here to abuse you, sometimes they just get a little frustrated (me included especially after what I have has to go through today). Thanks for taking the time to post.

    Cheers

    Rachael

  • Ellie
  • Ellie

    This is a debate where evidence is not being equally presented. It is pointless to argue on ideals alone and it is taking valuable time away from my family.

    I wish all our children, vaccinated or not, grow to be happy, healthy and well loved individuals. My warmth to all of you who are obviously doing a beautiful job as parents.

  • Ellie

    Joel

    There is evidence that vaccinations are not safe and there are researching struggling to get more studies done. This is precisely my point, we need to research what we can and make an informed decision accordingly. Everybody will have a different decision. What may be right for one chile will vary for an other. One child may have an adverse reaction to a vaccine and the mother chooses to postpone that vaccine in the future to protect her child. These adverse effects are very common as I have seen from my mothers group and friends (who by the way are pro vaccination and I have never ever felt or thought that their decision was ” wrong”).

    I also don;t think a commercial TV slot featuring a program like the one under discussion is really a valuable place to get your research, If ABC or SBS has aired an extensive debate the quality certainly would have been much higher.

    This is not a personal attack on Meryl Dorey and educated people are familiar with Homeopathy. London has 6 homeopathic hospitals and the evidence is mounting to its success. Many doctors are homeopaths and vice versa. But please lets not get into that debate! I am researching alternative medicine currently and in time will draw my own conclusions be it for or against.

    And in response to you both…. we are not just mere lay people. We are empowered mothers and humans. You must NEVER trust a person in a position of authority just because of the place they hold in society. This is absolutely dangerous in any regard. Trust your instinct. The mothers in china trusted the formula they were giving their children which killed them, we trusted doctors when they told us breast feeding had no benefit an d formula was just as good, we trusted doctors who said vaginal delivery was impossible after cesereans, we trusted big business that said smoking was in our best interests, politics when we sent soldiers to Vietnam, masses were sent to concentration camps because the public was lied to and to some extent chose to turn a blind eye.

    When I use the statement common sense regarding vaccination…. it could well be that these chemicals and virus’s in any doses could be extremely harmful. Why are there so many adverse reactions otherwise?

    I have presented doctors, homeopaths, websites, stats from Japanese experiments etc etc. Nothing is that mind blowing in conspiracy, is is weighing up effects of disease to effects of that particular vaccine. There are numerous sad stories of mothers watching their child convulse post vaccine, watching them die post vaccine…Many many stories. Much more than the cases of death and whooping cough?

    I want us all to have this knowledge as yet no one has presented me with anything factual, no links, no research.

  • Ellie

    Andy D

    The progression is due to people that were completely anti establishment in their time and questioned the blind faith of the masses? In regard to geography, flight and so forth?
    I still don’t understand your point.

    Immunizations may well be proved by some such people to be a well intended concept but with fundamental flaws. In this case it is our children who are trial running the theories.
    Thank God for science… yes. But thank god for people that have trusted their own creative intuitions. There is a long list of materials and procedures that they swore blindly were safe to humans…. esbestos, female labotony, food stablizers, artificial colouring, coca cola (when it was laced with cocaine), smoking, the female pill, some menapausal treatments that have been banned and this list could just continue.

    We need to be educated about the facts from professionals. Like we have been in regard to conception, safe sex and the like.

    I know what you are trying to say but I think the argument you are making is a little immature and under researched in itself to be honest. All the improvements/inventions/discoveries you mentioned have come from very minority groups that were thought completely mad by the public.

    I think there are people who would rather trust and believe they don’t have the knowledge to know better and those that question and take control. I am not saying either is right or wrong but that we have to agree to disagree.

  • L.E.G.

    The pharmaceautical company killed her daughter. She had G6PD and should never have been given any antibiotics. That is what killed her. The evil people must be stopped.

  • @Ellie:

    I will only address your responses to what I said before, otherwise the discussion will grow into an unmanageable mess that I don’t have time or energy for. Some of your new points are not something I would argue against anyway. Informed choice is good and it is great that you are willing to hear both sides, etc.

    4. I am not 100% against vaccinations but do want to know exactly what is going into my child body. Absolutely. Too many things of lesser extremes have been regarded as safe and are always uncovered later as having potential risk (ie panadol and asthma, coloring and preservatives and behavioural problems)

    I guess that is fair enough. However, there is currently no evidence that shows that the ingredients in vaccines are harmful at the levels in which they are present. They are well below the toxic threshold. If a plausible danger can be presented, maybe then you could get some funds diverted away from current valuable research in order to properly study those claims.

    6.I know who Meryl Dorey is and the way she was portrayed from the few moments of air time she was given as a quintessential hippie. Debate aside you, as an obviously intelligent person have to note that the program on channel seven was poor even for those who indeed want to vaccinate their children! It was hardly a fair or particularly extensive. There are professionals more qualified than us on either end of the debate that could have spoken at length in order to better inform us!

    I don’t think that was the way she was portrayed, as such. Rather, she really is that misguided. Homeopathic treatments? Come on, she actually did say that. It was nothing to do with how she was “portrayed”. I think you just recognise that given the context of the story, her ideas were laughable and an embarrassment to your cause. I agree.

    I also agree that reporting on these issues could be more focussed on the science, but given the nature of the programme and the timeslot, I understand that they prefer to tell human, emotional stories. I was just pleasantly surprised that they backed the right horse and pushed the important message that the benefits of vaccinating your children from very real illnesses far outweighs the suspect and scientifically unfounded concerns of groups like the AVN.

    No. there has not been sufficient checks and research done in this field! Have you seen the results. This is precisely the problem, these vaccines haven’t been adequately tested and most of them are very early in their life. This is a huge assumption and extremely trusting on your behalf.

    Maybe I am being too trusting, but then, I trust many experts on a day-to-day basis: pilots, bus drivers, doctors, chefs, etc. It’s part of living in our society. I’m a very skeptical person, but I direct my skepticism toward things that seem to deserve it. I have yet to hear a plausible reason to worry that vaccines are unnecessarily dangerous.

    I admire your curiosity Ellie. I hope you follow the evidence and get to the bottom of this, for your own peace of mind.

  • Ellie, my point is that common sense does not, usually, trump science and evidence. Without the physics of aviation and the fact we see 747s take off and land, common sense would tell you it isn’t possible. Indeed, people held the view for a long time that flight was not possible – that was common-sense-thinking. Evidence trumps common sense.

    Similarly, the Earth is no longer flat, though common sense once held that it must be. The sun no longer goes around the Earth, as common sense long suggested it did. Evidence trumped common sense again.

    It’s all a matter of prior knowledge. What’s common sense to me (and I agree that injecting stuff into babies is counter-intuitive on the face of it) is not necessarily common sense to a medical doctor.

    Common sense is valuable in situations where personal knowledge is adequate for making decisions, like choosing the green apple or the oozing brown one. But to expect lay-persons to seriously try and understand the intricacies of vaccination and immunology is dreaming. It would be like telling people not to fly without first completing the equivalent of a physics degree – just to be sure they understand everything that could possibly go wrong in the air.

    Sometime we have to have some trust in the experts – people who actually know what formaldehyde is and what it does and what quantities are acceptable for the human body.

    I should also address the idea that there are two sides to the argument and your implication that each side is therefore even. For a long time I avoided taking sides in this debate but it’s become apparent to me that there isn’t really a debate at all. One side has actual evidence and a massive support base among people who understand this stuff. The other side has a much smaller support base – though certainly a vocal one – and is headed by actors and daytime TV hosts.

    Both “sides” have people with vested financial interests and it’s incredibly disingenuous for anyone to imply that the alternative medicine industry (large supporters of anti-vax activism) don’t make a lot of money out of selling their alternative products, treatments and services to those who believe their “side”.

    If Jim Carrey and JEnny McCarthy said aviation was impossible, should we demand that all planes be grounded until we’ve assessed both sides of the debate and proved, beyond any doubt, that flight was 100% safe?

    As for “100% safe”, it’s a silly demand. Driving your baby home from the hospital is not 100% safe and the authorities know it. Should we ban cars until it is? The air your baby breathes on the way home is not 100% safe so maybe babies should be kept in sealed rooms in the hospital until further notice?

    Conception itself is not 100% safe and is responsible for genetic defects, miscarriages and some long-term disabilities and health problems. Perhaps we need to ban sex until we can make it 100% safe.

    It’s all a practical matter of statistical odds and they are in favour of vaccination. Going with the statistical evidence is just common sense really 😉

  • Ellie,

    You are clearly someone who cares very deeply about your children’s safety, which is admirable. However, it has to be said that you have been the victim of a campaign of misinformation and conspiracy theories.

    Don’t be fooled! The facts are these:

    Vaccines are incredibly effective in the reduction of disease. 50 years ago the mortality from diseases like measles and the disability from polio were epidemic. The fact that people can comfortably claim these diseases are no longer a problem is because vaccines have been so effective in eliminating them.

    Of course vaccines may have side effects, but this is true for any effective medication. The question is whether the benefits outweigh the side-effects, and in the case of vaccinations, it is absolutely clear that they do.

    The purported side-effects of vaccines are largely illusion. Many childhood diseases arise around the same age that vaccination occurs, and as a result are mistakenly attributed to the vaccine, when they would have happened anyway. It has been clearly shown, for example, that vaccines do not cause autism: http://tinyurl.com/aql3m2

    The preservatives and ingredients that you are concerned about in vaccines are either not there or not there in quantities that you need to be worried about. This site has lots of good information about this:
    http://antiantivax.jottit.com/

    And finally you’re right Ellie, you should be given all the facts. But please understand that the anti-vaccination crowd and people like Meryl Dorey are not interested in facts.

    They’re only interested in pushing the dogma that vaccinations are evil, and will cherry-pick information and twist whatever information they can find to fit that belief.

    Best wishes and take care,
    Matt

  • Ellie

    concept and implementation are two very different things.

  • Ellie

    Andy D your argument is ridiculous. Divini conceptualized the possibility of flight and it took quite a while before a jumbo jet succeeded in taking off? I am not quite understanding your logic?

    You take toxic substances and inject them into a child it may cause harm. It is quite obvious and the manufacturers of the vaccines have even stated as such. Side effects are well documented. It is the more severe and chronic implications that have not been researched. it is not exactly a mind blowing conspiracy theory?

  • Ellie

    1. There should be choice! I have no contempt for any mother as stated previously. We do the best we can and follow our instincts. I have never had a problem with anyone who has chosen to vaccinate. What bothers me is people who want to take that choice away.

    2. We should be given all the facts.

    3. We should not adamently sit on either side of the debate but weigh up as much research as we can so we can make informed decisions! Me included. I don’t want to sacrifice my child just because of stubborn or self righteous attitudes. I will take this criticism on board. My point is don’t decide in ignorance.

    4. I am not 100% against vaccinations but do want to know exactly what is going into my child body. Absolutely. Too many things of lesser extremes have been regarded as safe and are always uncovered later as having potential risk (ie panadol and asthma, coloring and preservatives and behavioural problems)

    5. View other options: postponing vaccinations, only vaccinating against life threatening disease such as Hib B. This way the child immunity can cope better. More and more vaccines are being introduced! Japan decided to postpone routine vaccinations until two years old and the rate of SIDS vertually dissapeared. (Dr Coulter)

    6.I know who Meryl Dorey is and the way she was portrayed from the few moments of air time she was given as a quintessential hippie. Debate aside you, as an obviously intelligent person have to note that the program on channel seven was poor even for those who indeed want to vaccinate their children! It was hardly a fair or particularly extensive. There are professionals more qualified than us on either end of the debate that could have spoken at length in order to better inform us!

    7.I contest the progress of science and medicine in some cases has been marvelous.
    “Mistakes are learned from and science progresses accordingly” this is very true but I for one don’t want my child to be an experiment. There is no stance of superiority on my part, every mother has the right to choose what is best for their child and you must contest that most people don’t look into this issue nearly enough before they proceed to make a decision! It is an important decision and not an easy one to make.

    8. Even the simplest food additives have an effect on a child do you honestly think that such harsh substances are without consequence?? Many vaccines have already been filtered out slowely due to there negetive side effects. They don’t recall them mind you as this would cause to much controversy.

    9.”There are checks and balances which aim to prevent them from the types of nefarious goings-on that the anti-vax people base their arguments on. Also, the people in those corporations are human beings with children too, and I think you will find that they do vaccinate”
    No. there has not been sufficient checks and research done in this field! Have you seen the results. This is precisely the problem, these vaccines haven’t been adequately tested and most of them are very early in their life. This is a huge assumption and extremely trusting on your behalf.

    10. How do you *know* this, in the face of all the evidence so far suggesting otherwise?
    This is not true. Each Vaccine company has admitted no trials have been done to check the carcinogentic effect of these vaccines

    INFO:
    Dr Harris L Coulter
    Barbara Loe Fisher
    Isaac Golden

    A great link with articles from medical professionals
    http://www.pnc.com.au/~cafmr/online/research/index.html

    Please send me the statistics or info that looks into vaccinations as effective and safe. This is the info I want to make a better informed decision. From the stats that have been given from government health departments most prove disease was on a decline before mass vaccination and unfortunately in areas where there was 100% vaccination the disease mutated and severe epidemics occured. I want to read the other side. Not hearsay but fact. Please.

  • Ellie, your reliance on “obvious basic logic” and “common sense” is your undoing. Common sense tells me that a 180 tonne jumbo jet cannot possible fly. I’ve watched one take off, it simply does not go anywhere near fast enough for air pressure to lift it. It’s common sense. Perhaps air travel is a mass conspiracy too and we’ll know that for sure in 20 years.

    In more recent news, researchers have now found a genetic link to autism. Luckily, they weren’t swayed away from research by the obvious basic logic that autism is caused by evil toxins injected into tiny bodies.

  • Ellie said: “It is unfortunate that as a society we have not learned from history the lies we have been told my both medicine and government at our own expense.”

    It is unfortunate that, from our privileged vantage point in time, privileged due to the victories of science over the tyranny of superstition and fear, that some of us feel justified in cherry-picking the mistakes and crowing about them in order to reinforce their feeling of superiority. Contrary to your statement, mistakes are learnt from, and science progresses accordingly.

    Ellie said: “It is sad that most of the blog entries come from individuals that have spent more time researching what TV they will purchase than they have the toxins they are injecting into our children.”

    I’ll ignore the hasty generalisation about why people allow their children to be vaccinated.

    Researching the topic of what ‘toxins’ are present in vaccines may reveal some scary names, but further research also reveals what precisely they are, what they used for within the vaccine and in what amount they are used. The amounts are way below what is considered adequately safe.

    Ellie said: “In the future, be it 1, 5 or 20 years the evidence will come out that injecting live virus’s preserved with formaldahyde and Mercury do in fact have negative implications on a child. It is such obvious basic logic.”

    How do you *know* this, in the face of all the evidence so far suggesting otherwise? What if in twenty years time this elusive evidence still does not exist? Will you then extend the time period further, similar to how failed religious prophecy is commonly reconciled, or will you do the open-minded thing and admit you may have been mistaken? Do you realise that the many properly controlled studies that have been done since Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent one in 1998 have shown no basis for concern over the safety of vaccines?

    Ellie said: “We are a mass public who let ourselves be used as lab rats for corporations who are making billions.”

    Pure paranoid conspiracy based on the aforementioned cherry-picking and the idea that because corporations make money they must be evil. I’m not going to defend the pharmaceutical companies across the board, they are certainly not above reproach in my opinion, but let’s not go crazy. There are checks and balances which aim to prevent them from the types of nefarious goings-on that the anti-vax people base their arguments on. Also, the people in those corporations are human beings with children too, and I think you will find that they do vaccinate.

    Ellie said: “The programe on Sunday was ridiculous hype and yes, they did drag into it a quintessential ‘Hippie’ to present the other side of the argument.”

    That “quintessential hippie” that you want to distance yourself from now that she has embarrassed herself on national television is, I’m afraid, the best you can hope for. She is Meryl Dorey, President of the intentionally confusingly named Australian Vaccination Network (AVN).

    Ellie said: “Mothers… if you have bothered to do any research at all you would know there are neuro surgeons and pediatricians of the highest calibre that will not vaccinate there children. Stop living in ignorance and just research objectively. That way if you do come up with the conclusion that vaccination is the answer for you, it will actually be from a place of love and complete devotion to your own children not ignorance and mass hysteria.

    Another hasty generalisation, and how self-righteous of you! Your contempt for mothers in general does your argument harm and may only serve to highlight the motives of people who get sucked in by the anti-vax nonsense. Maybe the feeling that comes from the certainty of being the only ones who can show “love and complete devotion to your own children” is so desirable that swallowing hog-wash becomes palatable, and (ironically) spreading ignorance and mass-hysteria starts to feel like a good idea.

    Please provide references to these “neuro surgeons and pediatricians of the highest calibre” who you claim fly in the face of scientific consensus by not vaccinating their children. This I find an extraordinary claim, and one that I can not find evidence of after “bothering to do any research at all”.

  • Ellie

    To add: this unfortunately becomes a debate. It is every parents right to choose what is best for there child. I have absolutely no problem with parents vaccinating. It is them and them alone that have done their own research and weighed up the pro’s and con’s. I do feel those who do not vaccinate, likewise have the same right to decide what they instinctively feel is best for the child. Maybe there is a good reason in their hearts. Vaccines have not been proven beyond doubt (or at all for that matter) to be safe if vaccines are safe, so until then there should be choice.

  • matt_k
  • Paula

    Just wanted to add – I personally would not be publicising the Channel 7 poll at all. It can only do more harm than good to the publicity of the importance of vaccinating. Already standing at close to 80% voting “No” to compulsory vaccination (probably made up mostly by people who don’t see the rights violation justified, who may well actually be totally in support of vaccination (like me for instance)), this poll is only going to serve to muddy the waters. No one should be encouraged to vote in it in it’s current form.

  • matt_k

    I’m happy to go with the words of Dr Karl Kruszelnicki on this one.

    “It’s quite obvious that no vaccine is perfect. But taking vaccines is way, way, way, way better than not taking vaccines.”

  • Paula

    The problem with the question “Should childhood vaccination be compulsory?” and all the subsequent discussion is that in the main, the discourse entirely misses the fundamental issue, which is not whether or not vaccination delivers what it promises, but whether it delivers in a way sufficient to breach the rights of a child.

    As others have said, the poll is a somewhat futile exercise because it is a question that was intended to present a view on vaccination and it’s importance but instead is couched in the linguistics of a human rights issue.

    It is a spectacular failure on Channel 7s part. Or maybe it’s actaully quite deliberate?

  • Ellie

    I am not sure where you are getting your figures and facts from. Please advise me as I have seen most statistics and to date there has been no study into the long term (or short term for that matter) effects of vaccination. The independent research done within the medical profession is slowely but surely uncovering the numerous incidences of Asthma, Eczma, autism, behavioral problems that are linked with vaccinations. These ailment are much more prevalent in our community than the few instances of death related measles and whooping cough.Unfortunately it is usually those infants with impared immunity, for whatever reason, that react so badly to common childhood diseases. Ironically it is these very same children that have the most adverse reactions to the vaccines. Off course we want to protect our children and it is not an easy decision to go against the norm. This world has only ever progressed through war, disease and political turmoil by those that have questioned the system. These vaccines are the best they have now and they will contest to that blindly untill something better comes along. Off course, we all know this. Ask your doctor for the ingredients list, just so you know. Ask them for a signed letter… hell lets get a petition signed by the best of Australias medical professionals to put there name to it: Vaccines are safe and I declare that there are no adverse effects. You will NEVER get this. There is a reason for that. The Horror is, many vaccinated children are harboring these virus’s within them, they are mutating, the long term effects of this are unknown. So many vaccinated children not only get these diseases but get much sicker as a result of their weakened immunity. Conspiracy is dramatic…. common sense. Live virus harbored in animal tissue mixed with a cocktail of preservatives such as mercury and formaldahyde amongst the worst = what do you think that may mean within a delicate human system.

  • Brico

    Is it too late to panic against the conspiracy of virtually every doctor, every scientist, and every modern study ever done on the risk of vaccinations? That’s one big conspiracy. At some point we need to look at the balance of probability, and the risk versus the benefit. It does not matter who is right, but what is more likely to be right.

  • Ellie

    It is unfortunate that as a society we have not learned from history the lies we have been told my both medicine and government at our own expense. It is sad that most of the blog entries come from individuals that have spent more time researching what TV they will purchase than they have the toxins they are injecting into our children. In the future, be it 1, 5 or 20 years the evidence will come out that injecting live virus’s preserved with formaldahyde and Mercury do in fact have negative implications on a child. It is such obvious basic logic. We are a mass public who let ourselves be used as lab rats for corporations who are making billions. The programe on Sunday was ridiculous hype and yes, they did drag into it a quintessential “Hippie” to present the other side of the argument. Mothers… if you have bothered to do any research at all you would know there are neuro surgeons and pediatricians of the highest calibre that will not vaccinate there children. Stop living in ignorance and just research objectively. That way if you do come up with the conclusion that vaccination is the answer for you, it will actually be from a place of love and complete devotion to your own children not ignorance and mass hysteria.

  • Err, Doc…

    I’ve just seen the ad for next week’s show. Apparently they are going to “challenge the experts” with an anti-vax scare campaign. At least, that’s how the ad comes across.

  • I’m glad I found this site. Thanks very much for this post and the video, which I’ve linked to from a discussion I’ve been involved in.

    http://www.thinkhumanism.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=731&p=53109#p53109

  • infoaddict

    One could get out of the immunisation requirement if you had a medically-proven allergy to vaccines – I was allergic to the egg-based vaccines until I was older – but I had the vaccines as soon as the allergies stabilised and/or they changed the basis of the injections!

  • Daniella

    Back in my day (80’s) you weren’t allowed to start school unless you had a certificate to say you were immunised. Is this not the case anymore?

  • @AndyD,

    Agreed. On-line polls are notoriously self selecting and easy to bias, plus the question is not well worded.

  • Their poll is a bit of a problem. The question should have been, “do you think children should be vaccinated?” Compulsory vaccination is a somewhat different issue related more to freedom than health. As such, it’s difficult to derive anything from the 60/40 split – not that any online poll has any value.

  • Think Different

    Thanks for the story. I often read of the misinformation spread in the US on vaccination. We may think all is OK because we don’t often experience the deaths from preventable diseases but that is because Australia has an excellent vaccination record. We, too, could become a significant part of the childhood death statistics if we reduce our vaccination rates. I don’t want that. Get over and vote on the Channel 7 website. I know this isn’t a popularity contest but if it sways parents to not give their children vaccination because they think most people think it’s OK then that is bad.

  • Hi AndyD,

    Thanks for reminding me that they are responsible for that awful 10 years in 10 days disgrace. For some reason I attributed this to channel 9. I think it is important to direct congratulatory emails to the producers and Rebecca Maddern in particular, but importantly we want to out-number the response from the anti-vaxers. I know they will have flooded channel 7 with complaints, based on what we intercepted on their Yahoo group last night.

    Credit where credit is due. This of course does not discount us from complaining about the detox and colonic irrigation. In fact, I might do just that…

  • Of course, this sensible report is more than defeated with things like Channel Seven’s new, weekly “10 years younger” show that is sponsored by a vitamin company and which pushes detox and colonic hydrotherapy (along with some cosmetic surgery) as a means to looking younger. Then there’s Perth’s Today Tonight showing, without a gram of skepticism, a “counsellor” who confirms people’s delusions about alien visitation.

    Still, we should show them some support when they get it right or we’ve only ourselves to blame for them pandering to the masses.

  • Bianca

    I actually couldn’t watch and hear that footage of Dana coughing, I had to mute the TV or look away. It was just horrific and unbearable to see that poor little baby in such pain.
    Educate yourselves and vaccinate your children, please!

  • Pingback: Dana McCaffery: Another victim of anti-vaccinationists « Skepacabra()

  • If you’d like to affect change in policy in Australia then there is a Website with Dana’s story and what you can do – http://www.danamccaffery.com

  • Pingback: Ugly baby dies. Ugly woman spouts large amounts of turd. - GotGames.com.au()

  • MikeTheInfidel

    “We were supposed to get them.” This from the loony mom. This shows you their mindset.

    Disease is GOOD because it makes you immune. Forget the dead kids – you’re SAFE.

  • Noni

    Perhaps Meryl Dorey could have a look at the World Health Organisation website. In their factsheet on Measles revised in December 2008, it reports that there were 197 000 measles deaths globally in 2007. Yes, you can die from childhood diseases!!Measles vaccination resulted in a 74% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2007 worldwide.

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  • “No, we treated whooping cough homeopathically and none of us were sick for more than 2 weeks. My vaccinated children got it and my unvaccinated children got it. And none of us were sick for more than 2 weeks and it was nothing more than a bad cough”.

    Silly parents. They should’ve treated their parents with a microgram of herbs diluted in half a gallon of water according to a recipe by some quack and everything would’ve been magically a-ok! Or, just like you said in the original post, they didn’t have whooping cough and the quack she turned to couldn’t diagnose one if his life depended on it.

    Anti-vaxxers are looking for someone to blame for autism of their children being sick and they find it in Big Pharma and their products while homeopaths and other “alternative doctors” point the finger in the same direction and cough suggestively, knowing full well that if people are scared enough, they’ll chose their quackery instead of actual medical treatment:

    http://worldofweirdthings.com/2009/04/08/a-case-of-medical-luddism/

    And meanwhile children are starting to die while the same people helping to cause their deaths will refuse to accept responsibility, saying that thirty years ago people lived just fine with far fewer vaccines. Of course forgetting to mention that infant and child mortality were higher in that time period…

  • Pingback: The Australian antivax movement takes its toll | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine()

  • I have replaced the “loon” comment with evidence, as you will see. I agree with the both of you that her statements about homeopathy were left unchallenged. In a recent story I did for A Current Affair, the reporter did not know what homeopathy was, and was very surprised when we explained it as magical water that holds a memory. Perhaps it slipped by Rebecca for the same reason. Many people also think it is a herbal remedy, that therefore might have some form of efficacy, or at least has something in it. I will include this in my congratulatory email to Channel 7.

  • I too was so surprised that this story took the ethically responsible action.

    Perhaps they did go a bit hard and oversell vaccines a little (they’ll protect you from every superbug)… but otherwise solid efforts, and great soundbytes from everyone all round.

    I particualrly like how they went straight from the false claim of disease not killing to kids, to “actually, no, that’s a crock of shit”.

    Given that Dorey didn’t even take her children to hospital for their ‘whooping cough’, I have serious doubts that they actually contracted actual whooping cough and that said ‘whooping cough’ was then cured by magick water. More than likley the children went through a range of childhood diseases that symptoms included everyday coughs and sniffles. I’m even more sure of this when she says “I caught it too”.

    No parent in their right mind would not take a child with whooping cough to a hospital. There is a reason why there is the whooping bit at the front.

  • I agree Joel, her statements were left completely unchallenged. The only thing close to a challenge to her statements were the entire story itself.

  • Thanks for the debriefing, I mostly agree. It was a very pleasant surprise to see a commercial TV channel reporting such a subject responsibly. However, Merryl Dorey was only made to “look a right loon” to people who understand that homeopathy really is just “water with magical powers” (or rather, water *without* magical powers). I think there was still a danger of some people being lead to believe that her ridiculous ideas might be worth considering.

    Oh okay, she looked a right loon regardless. 🙂