by Greg Beattie
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, has refused to participate in a panel discussion on vaccination at this weekend’s Healthy Lifestyles expo on the Sunshine Coast, saying “there’s nothing to debate”. In the wake of this, disturbing details have now emerged of a cover up by her office regarding the death of a child following vaccination.
Brisbane two-year-old, Ashley Jade Epapara, died shortly after a flu vaccination on April 9, 2010, just two weeks before the vaccine was withdrawn nationally in a blaze of publicity due to severe reactions. Police attending the scene of the death told reporters there were no suspicious circumstances apart from the vaccine. But Queensland Health staff acted quickly to quash that suggestion, instructing police to “ensure no further statements of the nature were made”, and securing agreement from media outlets to not pursue the story.
With the story suppressed, the vaccine continued on a path of destruction, particularly in Western Australia where an aggressive campaign was underway to vaccinate every child in the state.
It was not until April 22 that the vaccine was withdrawn from use in children. During and immediately following this period, many children endured severe reactions including Saba Button, who remains profoundly disabled. One wonders whether Saba’s parents, or those of the many other children affected, would have taken their child for the shot had they known about the tragedy in Brisbane. Unfortunately few knew about the vaccine connection in the Brisbane tragedy because of the cover up.
The following email excerpts were recently forwarded to us by a concerned third party. They are part of a Right to Information (RTI) release. They demonstrate clearly that health department staff deliberately and successfully prevented Australian parents from being warned about the potential for danger with this vaccine. (You can read the entire RTI by clicking this link for part 1 and this link for part 2.)
“…someone involved (think it was a police officer) told the journalist the death may have been linked with a flu vaccination given to the child 24-hours before its death, and an autopsy will be performed Monday to rule it out.
“I have spoken to police media, who followed up with the area to make sure no further statements of the nature were made and spoke to the CH 10 News Editor about the unlikeliness of a link, and the possible panic such a story could cause.”
– Samantha Keegan, A/Manager, Corporate, Queensland Health.
“I’m keen to hear if this blows up. Certainly has the potential to seriously undermine the confidence in the program and I’d like to jump on it before it does blow up (if possible).
“…and thanks Samantha for setting the coppers straight.
Neil, Media Unit, Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra.
“Channel 9 is asking about a link between the Sudden Unexpected Death of a 2-yr-old girl on Friday and the child’s vaccination against swine flu 24 hours before her death.
“Channel 10’s editor gave me his word he would not run anything on Fri – then ran a short 3 par ‘live read’ (no vision or interviews).
“ABC and Courier Mail agreed not to run anything after I discussed the public health ramifications of children not being vaccinated with them.”
– Samantha Keegan, A/Manager, Corporate, Queensland Health.
There were many more emails exchanged, as can be seen in the RTI release, and Dr Young was kept informed the whole way. Within two weeks, a disaster had evolved forcing an urgent national withdrawal of the vaccine. When Dr Young was again approached by the media she issued a press release, feigning ignorance:
“Until now, neither Queensland Health, nor the relevant national body had been advised of, or were aware of, any death allegedly related to a 2010 seasonal flu vaccine in Queensland”.
Jeanette Young, Chief Health Officer, Queensland Health – April 25, 2010
The problem with the current approach
In the following days, we will be publishing a detailed series of articles regarding a more in-depth account of these events. One thing is clear: the current approach of our health authorities sometimes involves withholding, or suppressing vital information. In this case, the approach had clearly devastating consequences for some families.
What’s not immediately apparent is that this is actually the general ‘modus operandi’ of health authorities when dealing with vaccination. Whenever possible, they avoid discussing concerns raised by the media or consumer groups. Even worse, they openly state that these concerns are unjustified or dangerous in and of themselves. In short, “there’s nothing to debate”.
The refusal by Dr Young to provide a spokesperson for this weekend’s Healthy Lifestyles Expo is an example of this modus operandi. Her comments that the organisers should have exercised due diligence and not allowed anyone from the AVN to speak is another. Accusing the AVN of spreading ‘misinformation’ and ‘debunked theories’ is something Dr Young should be prepared to defend publicly. Her reluctance to do so is simply in keeping with this approach.
Parents are entitled to all information that may matter to them. If the police, or the media, or any other group feel the information is important, then it is. The AVN speaker at the expo, Ms Meryl Dorey, will be raising issues that are of concern to all potential consumers of vaccines. The public deserves to have these issues addressed at the forum and they rightly request the presence of a representative from their taxpayer-funded health department to explain why such concerns should not be considered important.
Suppression of vital information when parents are faced with making informed decisions about their children’s health is clearly not the answer. Responsible health officials tend to prefer education over coercion when it comes to health choices. It is essential that any information which matters to consumers is never actively withheld from them, and that any discussion this prompts is welcomed by our publicly funded health officials.
Further analysis will be available on this blog in coming days.