Over the past two decades the anti-vaccination movement has gained a growing following in NSW, Australia’s most populous state. It may have met its match.
After fighting to retain its ability to raise funds and disseminate information about “vaccine choices” through a series of legal battles, the Australian Vaccination Network and the wider anti-vax movement has become a target for the country’s largest selling newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph, and its sister-paper The Daily Telegraph.
The campaign has been prompted by falling vaccination coverage rates, including in some of the most affluent parts of Sydney. It launched yesterday and has two goals:
- Give childcare centres solid legal grounds for refusing to admit children who haven’t been vaccinated
- Closing a loophole that allows parents of unvaccinated kids to continue claiming the 50% rebate on childcare payments on “conscientious objector” grounds
“No jab, no play” is the campaign’s theme and it aims to highlight how non-vaccination is not just a risk that parents take with their own child, but one that puts other children at risk by allowing diseases such as whooping cough and measles to spread in the community.
The AVN claims it is not anti-vaccination but it distributes information on autism rates in the community. This link between vaccines and autism is based on the now utterly discredited work of Andrew Wakefield, who first suggested a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in a Lancet article in 1998. Two years ago, the Lancet retracted the article from the publication record.
Whooping cough notifications exploded in NSW over recent years, and doctors are concerned that lower levels of immunity in the population will lead to more deaths.
In 2011 there were 13,000 infections in the state and one child died.
The Telegraph yesterday reported that the eastern suburbs, inner Sydney, Manly and the north shore now record the lowest rates of immunisation in the city with an estimated 77,000 children not fully protected against preventable diseases.
It’s a campaign that’s important in NSW but with diseases having no regard for borders it’s something that warrants national attention.
There’s more information on the campaign at The Telegraph website.
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