Watch it Sunday May 3rd, Channel 7 at 18:30 EST. Moderated by Mike Munro.
It wasn’t a good start for the anti-vaxers whose representative, Dr Giselle Cook, spent her introduction explaining to Mike Munro why he should refer to her as “pro-choice” not “anti-vaccine”. Her time would have been better spent establishing her point of view; instead she came across as flustered. For the pro, was Professor Peter McIntyre, who by contrast, was informed, concise and clearly stated that the small
risks associated with vaccinating far outweigh the consequences of disease.
We were told to interject anytime we liked, and of course it didn’t take long for Meryl Dorey to voice her opinion. But I’m pleased to report, she was smacked down several times by host Mike Munro and even by other mothers in the audience. But when she mispronounced Dana’s name and mumbled, “oh I’m sorry, I don’t really know how to pronounce it. I hope that’s right”, that was when I really began to question her sincerity for the parents of Dana McCaffery who sat only a few chairs away.
I will include a few tid-bits from proceedings today. There is too much to put in one post. However, much of it you will see on tomorrow night’s show and I don’t want to steal their thunder. Nevertheless, this gives you a taste.
My opinion is the anti-vaxers did not come across very well. Particularly when Mike Munro asked the McCafferys about the hate mail they had received since appearing on the show last week. There was a clearly audible gasp from the anti-vaxer side of the room and mumblings of that’s terrible etc, until Mike Munro looked straight at Meryl Dorey and said, “Didn’t many of those emails come from your organisation Meryl?”. Many of the anti-vaxers were heard to exclaim, we wouldn’t do that etc, but the damage was done.
Meryl was unable to contain herself from accusing Prof. Peter McIntyre of being on the take from the government. She asked him how much money he received from the government for vaccinating kids. (Of course she was referring to the Maternity Immunisation Allowance scheme introduced in 1997, which they also get access to by the way). Professor McIntyre looked at her blankly and replied – none.
Mike Munro inquired of Meryl Dorey’s medical qualifications, to which she replied; only that I have been researching this for 20 years. Munro interjected – so you don’t have any formal medical qualifications? Well then perhaps we should let the doctors answer the questions.
Toni McCaffery asked Meryl Dorey if she had ever been in a neo-natal unit with kids experiencing whooping cough or measles, or seen a child go into cardiac arrest like she had Dana. Meryl, in a defying act of insensitivity said; “of course it is awful to see a child die, any child, but Dana?, Daanna?, I’m sorry, I don’t really know how to pronounce it…”
I could hardly believe my ears when Meryl Dorey dragged out the Wakefield case as evidence that vaccines cause autism. Prof McIntyre commented that this had been repeatedly debunked to which she responded that there had since been seven publications “from reputable scientific journals” showing Wakefield’s data to be correct. Prof McIntyre looked quite bemused at this comment and calmly stated that not only had some of the data been faked but amongst other flaws, the study only involved 12 children and had since been retracted by the the Lancet.
When Munro asked her to produce said papers, Dorey claimed she had sent them to one of the researchers for the show. She claimed she had sent over 30 studies to the studio in support of her arguments including evidence of vaccine damage. Munro looked decidedly unimpressed and asked her to provide evidence instead of just making all these claims. For this, she cited a child in NSW and QLD (from memory) to which Munro responded, your evidence is one or two kids? You keep saying you have evidence for these things but you are unable to produce it in the studio today? Meryl replied, ”I gave you the details of the 2 kids I just mentioned, you didn’t contact them!!??” To which Munro replied, yes we did Ms Dorey and they did not want to talk to the programme. End of discussion.
Munro inquired of a young mother with 5 month old twins about her sons’ vaccination status. The mother stated that she didn’t really know very much, so was unable to really comment, but she had chosen not to have her kids vaccinated. Munro repeated, “So you don’t really have all the information, you haven’t done the research, but you decided to not have your kids vaccinated anyway”; to which she replied yes.
This sparked the ire of a mother with child a few seats behind, who’s child was recovering from whooping cough after contracting it before he was eligible for vaccination. This mother stated that she was not entirely happy sitting in a room with 2 babies in such close proximity to her son since he had not yet completed his full schedule of immunisations and further, her son could also infect the twins, since he was still recovering. But it also made the first mother look pretty naive and irresponsible.
The thing about the anti-vax lobby is that they are always screeching that parents need more information, but when you offer them scientific data they always have a reason why it is wrong or not acceptable. Often it’s the Big Pharma conspiracy (pharmaceutical companies sponsored that study therefore it’s biased), or they counter offer you something written in a book that they once read. I presented the recent Nature research which links ~15% of autism cases to genes and it was dismissed it out of hand precisely because it only accounts for ~15%, therefore, what about the other ~85%? It must be the mercury and heavy metals in vaccines. It is very difficult to argue with people when their counter arguments have no basis in science and all science you do show them is wrong. Just like the creationists, they continually move the goal posts. And whilst they say they want more information, only as long as that information aligns with their beliefs.
Toni and David McCaffery were in the audience today. I sat next to David and we chatted throughout. They both thanked myself and Richard for our support. What they did today was unimaginably tough and brave. Dana only passed away 6 weeks ago. Yet the anti-vaxers bumble along seemingly oblivious. At one stage when discussion got around to Dana’s death I heard from behind me, someone say it was only one baby. David McCaffery leaned over to me and said, “It was my baby”.