A week ago, I came back from a 9-city seminar tour of country NSW. I was very lucky to have had Greg Beattie, author of Fooling Ourselves on the Fundamental Value of Vaccines (this book is available in both hard copy and electronic versions) and Vaccination: A Parent’s Dilemma, join me for 7 of those 9 stops. For those who haven’t heard Greg speak, you don’t know what you’ve been missing! His information on the lack of evidence for ANY contribution vaccines may have made to the decline in deaths from infectious diseases is irrefutable (it comes from the Australian and other international governments). By using graphs plotted from government information which were taken from from his book, Fooling Ourselves, it is easy to see that what we’ve been told about the necessity and effectiveness of vaccination is not based in fact.
This was an amazing, invigorating and totally exhausting 2 weeks!
So many of those we met said they were inspired by our talks and yet, I felt absolutely inspired by meeting them.
A group of people in Moree (our second stop) were motivated to contact a woman who attended our Inverell talk (the first stop) and who runs an organic co-op for information on setting up a similar group in their town which only has one health food store and very little in the way of organic produce. They may also have coffee mornings to provide local support for families who have chosen not to vaccinate and are feeling very isolated in that decision.
A woman in Bathurst visited her local member of parliament and ALL of the local media outlets, asking them why these seminars were not being publicised even though community announcements had been sent to all radio, and television stations as well as to newspapers well in advance of the event. The result of her activism was a large article in one of the local papers and a radio interview as well. She felt so good at having been successful in her efforts, and I felt incredibly supported simply through the fact that she had cared enough to go to the trouble of working on this issue off her own bat!
One of our professional members paid for a copy of our seminar flyer to be published as an ad in the local newspaper. This person did not take this action for any accolades it may have brought them. In fact, if I hadn’t seen a copy of the paper myself, I never would have known! They also paid for several of the practice’s clients to come to the talk because they felt the information was needed by these particular people. How’s that for dedication and doing something for the right reasons?
I will find the time to do a more in-depth analysis of some of the events that took place over the two weeks of our tour including actions by a potential candidate for the Australian Democrats for the seat of New England who harassed the Tamworth Ex-Services Club, asking them to cancel our talk there. The Club was so supportive! They kept a lookout for any trouble (there wasn’t any) and told me that the CEO had told this ‘gentleman’ that the last time he’d checked, Australia was still a democracy which meant that people had the right to express their views without fear of being shut up or shut down. Perhaps the Australian Democrats need to think carefully before allowing this person to be preselected for such an important seat?
Those who attended
And there were indeed two members of Stop the AVN who came to the talks. I will give more information about their appearances in separate blog postings, but there was no trouble from anyone, thank goodness!
The talks were not well attended. Part of that was due to the media not publishing our community announcements and the fact that we did not have the funds to advertise these events otherwise. Part of it was due to an organised campaign by members of Stop the AVN to tear down our posters which had been put up by volunteers and AVN members in these communities.
In one town, we personally put posters up on 3 community bulletin boards at 7 PM. By 10 the next morning, the two that we checked were gone. One of those was behind a glass front in a case! So not only do SAVN want to make it impossible for parents to choose not to vaccinate – they also want to stop them from getting any information that is not fully pro-medical.
In addition to these influences, however, the story we heard over and over again at each venue was that people were afraid to come to AVN talks because:
1- They feared that there could be violence at these events from members of Stop the AVN who are so incredibly vocal about their plans to harass anyone who supports informed choice; and
2- They were afraid that friends might find out they had come to the seminar and as a result, they would be blacklisted in town and their children would be victimised.
Those who did come, often drove long distances – over 2 hours in some cases – to get there. They had to drive home late at night on roads made dangerous by kangaroos and wombats but they did it because they were so hungry for knowledge and support and I thank them from the bottom of my heart!
The medical brown shirts
What has Australia come to when caring parents who have made informed choices in the best interests of their own children have to be afraid to let people know about these choices?
Why is it that parents who know nothing about this issue feel they have the right to berate and abuse families who are well-informed simply because their own fear of diseases has caused them to hate those whose unvaccinated children, they feel, might put their fully vaccinated kids at risk? Where is the logic? Where is the intelligence? Most of all, where is the understanding that in a democracy, we all have the right to make these choices?
I would love to have your input on these issues. Do you have any ideas about how to empower parents to own their health decisions because I can tell you right now, there are many more families in Australia who have decided not to vaccinate then we can tell from the small number of conscientious objectors. Many parents have chosen to forego the childcare payment and the maternity immunisation allowance just so they wouldn’t have to front up to a potentially abusive doctor or clinic nurse to get their conscientious objector form signed. The problem is that they all feel isolated and unsupported and think that they are the only ones who have made that decision.
Where do you stand? If you have chosen to vaccinate your children, are you concerned about them being around unvaccinated kids? If so, why? Do you think that harassment or abuse of non-vaccinating parents is justified and if so, why>
If you have chosen not to vaccinate, are you nervous about sharing that decision with your friends and family? Have you been placed under extreme pressure by your community and / or a medical professional who has – for whatever reason – tried to get you to change your mind?
Lastly, does this sort of pressure make it more or less likely that you will vaccinate? Does harassing parents for their medical choices make them change those choices or just make it more likely that they will go ‘underground’ with their decision and withhold information about their decisions from those around them?
Please let me know where you stand on all of this. All comments will be approved unless they attack someone, use foul language or are abusive.