Media Release, August 5, 2009, Embargoed until 10.00pm AEST

Australian parents urged to get the real facts on vaccination

Businessman, aviator, and explorer, Dick Smith, has funded an Australian Skeptics’ advertisement to urge parents to access factual information on vaccination, in the wake of the country’s largest Whooping Cough epidemic.

The advertisement warns people to avoid advice from groups such as the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), which state that they are ‘pro-choice’ but are opposed to vaccination and spread misinformation about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

“Dick Smith Foods has funded this advertisement in the public interest, to ensure parents access unbiased, accurate advice from reputable medical sources. The Australian Vaccination Network is no such source,” said Mr Smith.

The advertisement – placed in the Thursday, August 6 edition of The Australian newspaper – warns parents that the AVN is spreading false claims including that vaccines contain toxic quantities of mercury, aluminium, and formaldehyde; that vaccines cause conditions such as autism, and that the AVN is providing incorrect information about the risks of childhood illnesses.

Following the tragic death of three babies to Whooping Cough, Australian Skeptics has established an information page with information on the myths and realities of vaccines and links to reputable sources.

The parents of four-week-old Dana McCaffery, who died from Whooping Cough in March, have welcomed the Skeptics’ actions.

“We implore parents to access reputable sources for information about vaccination. We thank the Australian Skeptics for presenting this information, which informs parents about the risks of preventable illnesses, addresses fears of vaccines with proven evidence, and debunks common myths. It is vital all Australian governments act now and implement comprehensive education campaigns to fully inform parents about the importance of vaccination,” said Toni and David McCaffery.

Eran Segev, president of Australian Skeptics Inc, said: “Australian Skeptics believes strongly that the public should have access to full and factual information so that they can form their opinions and choices in life, not half-truths, mistruths and fantasies.”

The Australian Skeptics has several thousand members across Australia, and investigates paranormal and pseudo-scientific claims from a responsible scientific viewpoint.

Further information: Australian Skeptics

Media contact: Tim Mendham, 0432 713 195

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  • Do you know that the largest number of deaths caused on the roads are by licensed drivers? Shocking isn’t it. By your logic that must mean that licensing drivers is more dangerous than not doing so … or could it simply be a case of overwhelming numbers?
    Nobody claims conventional medicine is 100% safe. Nobody claims anything is 100% safe, to do so would be making a logical fallacy.
    Production of alternative medicine is a business too, are you saying they have no morals either? Well I’ll be darned. At least pharmaceutical companies thoroughly test their medicine and procedures unlike alt-med. At least they can claim efficacy due to this testing.

  • d card

    if ignorance is really bliss, a lot of you must lead really really happy lives.

    the evidence not just about vaccines, but the corrupt collusion between big pharma, the ‘medical’ industry, ‘paid for’ medical resaerch, and the food industry.

    you really think big business worth billions and billions and billions of cash every year has ANY morality or ethics?

    do you know that the 3rd biggest cause of death is presciption drugs WHEN TAKEN AS PRESCRIBED? drugs just like vaccines.

    do you know that if parents gave their children all the recommended vaccines they would have had over 40 before they reached school?

    and so on and on it goes.

    in the past, i have regularly found, and in different contexts, that the most ignorant people are often the most rabid and ranting

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  • MichaelB

    And try watching this one guys, Malaria cured by Chinese herbs, yup we don’t need one of those expensive and dangerous vaccines the drug companies are trying to invent and profit from…

    I know you all believe Chinese medicine is all voodoo and witchcraft. I was in China recently, they have bigger hospitals than we have in anywhere in Australia, 10 stories and more, thousands of beds and hundreds of people walking through the doors every minute, and hundreds of specialist doctors… and these hospitals are Chinese medicine hospitals, they use acupuncture and herbs….You guys ought to get out of Australia more, see the world and learn a few things, rather than meet every week for drinks at the local tavern, only to reinforce your own bias belief structures…

    Maybe you should start your letter writing campaign to SBS now at berate them for their misleading and irresponsible reporting of the Chinese medicine malaria cure? Or maybe you should just be a little more openly sceptical…objective scepticism is good, closed mined scepticism is not!!

  • MichaelB

    I’m sure you closed minded Sceptics aren’t interested in scientific facts, just your own version of them, but I’m going to give it a try anyway, God knows why I am bothering as I know it won’t change any one of your narrow minds as most of you have a cart to push.

    Maybe I’m hoping that just one, just one of you actually has an open scientific mind and is actually interested in true scientific enquiry.

    Try reading the article by Robert F Kennedy Jr. as he lists all his references and scientific data. Try watching this video in which scientists at the University of Calgary show how neurons are damaged from mercury in tooth fillings and Thimerosal which is vaccines.

    I understand how Galileo felt, surrounded by all the learned scientific minds of his time….and all the scientific minds that scoffed at Dr. Ignac Semmelweis for suggesting that washing ones hands would prevent infections….nothing has changed much has it?

    “My dear Kepler, what do you say of the leading philosophers here to whom I have offered a thousand times of my own accord to show my studies, but who, with the lazy obstinacy of a serpent who has eaten his fill, have never consented to look at the planets, or moon, or telescope? Verily, just as serpents close their eyes, so do men close their eyes to the light of truth.” Galileo Galilei in a letter to Johannes Kepler, 1630

  • michael

    The Northern Star newspaper in Northern NSW runs antivaccination letters sourced from all over the country but few if any pro vaccination letters. I have already complained to the press council about thier antivaccination bias. Well in the middle of a whooping cough epidemic they ran a full page ad from the AVN warning people of the dangers of vaccination, providing a graph that proves it doesnt work ! The Ad was in the Northern Star Lismore on Saturday 12 sept 2009. This Ad was dressed up to look like a news article with a small print disclaimer stating it was a paid ad. Would these bastards run an ad from the pro pedophilia foundation or the anti child car restraint league ? It seems they would. The AVN is based in Bangalow NSW so the Northern Star newspaper is a favourite and local means of disseminating thier bullshit. I believe it would also be a great place to start countering thier bullshit. Also if anyone else would like to complain to the press council about this murderous publication please do. If I can help I,m at

  • @Ted,

    Nice little straw men arguments you are erecting there. The government provides adequate information on the safety of vaccines. Tell me, how is the AVN not profit motivated when it regularly advertises an promotes alternative therapies, do a little reading, think a little and you won’t look like such a dill.

  • Ted

    You are seriously misinformed or delusional if you think vaccines are 100% safe, do not injure and kill some kids, do not contain toxins and are the panacea for health. We need other sources including AVN to provide us with the unbiased (not profit motivated) other side of the story.

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  • bernice l.

    LOL. I wrapped the proceeds of my dog’s daily job with that page. At least I have protected one innocent uneducated sheep from being influenced by unscientific propoganda!

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  • No, missed it as expected. I’m waiting for the video to go up (all the others are). The website has one very interesting fact:
    ++ Almost 4 times more money is spent on CM (in out of pocket expenses) than on pharmaceuticals.
    I wonder if the anti-vaxxers will now start campaigning against “Big-Altie”?

  • Bugger missed Sunrise – did anyone catch it?

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  • Michael Kingsford Gray

    Is there a natural cure for watching 7’s sunrise?
    Can infinitely diluted homeopathic doses of television actually be beneficial?
    News at 11. (x 10^-413)

  • Yes, they appear to have covered both reality and wishful thinking. Given that they’ve already “confirmed” that natural remedies really work, I wonder why they even plan to ask if alternative therapies really work.

  • To be fair I nearly had a heart attack when they had a doctor on dismissing the MMR vaccine autism myth on tuesday.

  • In other news, tomorrow (Friday) Channel Seven’s Sunrise is going to see if complementary therapies work by asking the practitioners!
    They’ve already done pantry remedies with a naturopath, where no questions were asked about evidence. It seems that if “Grandma did it” then it must be medicine.
    Videos of all the “medical week” segments are online at Sunrise and some could do with analysis by someone with access to the facts.

  • Grendel

    Nice work – I remember when he had a ‘dowsing challenge’ that no dowser could meet also.

  • Excellent news.. You do know that Dick is a member of the Illuminati right 😉

  • Thanks, Andy. Fixed.

  • Oh, and I just discovered the “Australian Skeptics” link at the bottom of the article is munted.

  • Well done. Will you be publishing a copy of the ad online for us to link to?

  • Dianne

    Well done Dick Smith and I know a lot of people were involved behind the scenes to make this happen. Well done, you all know who you are…