The AMA today issued a warning about anti-vaccination groups reminding parents that vaccines save lives and it is important for parents to immunise their children.
The AVN was targeted in the statement in which AMA Vice President, Dr Steve Hambleton said that recent media reports outlining the views of the AVN show that this organisation has drawn the fire of the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
“While we all value freedom of speech in our society, groups that promote what the NSW HCCC has described as misleading, inaccurate and deceptive information about immunisation, under the guise of ‘pro-information’ and ‘pro-choice’, are putting Australians at risk of diseases that can be prevented through vaccination” he said.
The AVN have previously been in legal strife with the AMA. Back in 2007 they published an advertisement on mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers in NSW which made some rather spurious claims about the AMA. The ad had been submitted to NSW Doctor magazine but was rejected upon the committee checking the AVN website and “finding out that we only had one medical practitioner listed amongst our Professional Members”.
So the AVN published it on their website, until the AMA’s lawyers got a gander at it. The AVN was forced to remove the ad and publish a retraction in its place which said (in part):
In particular it has been brought to the attention of the Australian Vaccination Network, the the Australian Vaccination Network accepts, that:
1- AMA (NSW) does not obtain any of its funding from pharmaceutical companies;
2- AMA (NSW) has not published any advertisement or advertorial for a pharmaceutical company in the NSW Doctor for a period of at least four years, and at no time has the advertising in NSW Doctor been almost exclusively that of pharmaceutical companies;
3- AMA (NSW) does not actively censor information made available to its members.
The Australian Vaccination Network unreservedly apologises for any offence or embarassment the publication may have caused AMA (NSW), its officers and employees.
Today’s statement from the AMA is reproduced in full below. There is a link to the AMA story here.
Misleading claims about vaccination putting Australian lives at risk
2 August 2010 – 2:15pm
Vice President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA is greatly concerned that groups that are promoting discredited theories about immunisation are exposing Australians to the devastating effects of preventable illnesses.
Dr Hambleton said that recent media reports outlining the views of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) show that this organisation has drawn the fire of the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
“It is important for parents to have their children immunised. Immunisation saves lives,” Dr Hambleton said.
“While we all value freedom of speech in our society, groups that promote what the NSW HCCC has described as misleading, inaccurate and deceptive information about immunisation, under the guise of ‘pro-information’ and ‘pro-choice’, are putting Australians at risk of diseases that can be prevented through vaccination.
“We are now almost two generations away from deadly diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria and polio. Our grandparents will still remember how bad it was.
“Parents who choose not to immunise their children need to consider that they are putting not only their own children at risk, but they are also risking other children, with potentially fatal consequences.
“If immunisation rates fell because many parents relied on the efforts of other families to vaccinate their children, under the misapprehension that this would provide sufficient protection to the whole community, there would be new epidemics of old illnesses.
“The last outbreak of measles occurred in a school in an area with low immunisation rates. The outbreak was so severe that it interrupted the educational curriculum.
“The NSW HCCC’s findings and concerns regarding the AVN released last month are consistent with the views of the medical profession.
“It is critical that Governments promote the evidence and benefits of full immunisation and run an ongoing public education program that informs the public about the devastating effects of diseases that can be avoided through vaccination.
“The AMA welcomes the announcement last week that seasonal flu vaccination of young children can now be resumed, and commends the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer for taking early action to investigate this matter and the latest advice, which means we can maintain confidence in our vaccination program,” Dr Hambleton said.
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