Are those who want to mandate vaccines completely clueless?

by Meryl Dorey

Anti-choice campaigner, Alison Gaylard
Anti-choice campaigner, Alison Gaylard

My local newspaper, The Northern Star, ran the following article regarding the proposed punishments of law-abiding Australians trying to make informed choices for the protection of their children. These parents — the majority of whom are (according to numerous Australian government studies) highly educated and well-researched on this subject — believe that:

1- Vaccines carry serious risks including the risk of lifelong disability or death. 

2- Vaccines are not as effective as doctors have claimed them to be.

3- Healthy unvaccinated children do not carry or transmit diseases to others, though their vaccinated counterparts do (e.g. those who have received live virus vaccines and those who have been vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough), who recent studies show may be more likely to infect others with the illness)

4- In a democratic nation such as Australia, that is a signatory to the Nuremburg Code, personal informed choice is sacrosanct and must never be abridged in any way.

Many of you may not know this, but the AVN was instrumental in the lobbying efforts to introduce a conscientious objector clause into Federal legislation so that a generation of parents between then (the late 1990s) and now was able to access all government benefits. Now, moves are afoot to wipe out our hard work on your behalf.

Below are my responses to this article (the original article is in block quotes below). I would love to hear your feedback on what you are willing to do to protect your rights. Please suggest ideas (visits to politicians, protest marches, letters, petitions, etc.), and let me know whether you would be prepared to be one of those who takes action against these tyrannical moves by our pharma-controlled government, by clicking here to send me an email with your contact details and ideas.

Vaccination supporters welcome government crack down

Luke Mortimer

Northern Star

11 April, 2015

NORTHERN Rivers Vaccination Supporters has welcomed moves by the Federal Government to crack down on parents avoiding vaccinating their children.

Well, this is no surprise! The Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters is a small group of people involved with Stop the AVN (SAVN). They have always favoured compulsory vaccination. I would be very surprised if they were ever quoted as being supportive of health rights or the right to freedom of choice or speech. That is not their way.

ALISON GAYLARD: Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. And science is factual.

No, Alison; I’m sorry to have to tell you that science is neither factual nor wrong. Science is a process by which hypotheses are tested. And there are few hard and fast rules in science. Some examples of indisputable facts are: yes, the sun always rises in the east and sets in the west; yes, living things respire, reproduce, and die. Scientific conclusions are, by their very nature, open to debate, interpretation, and testing. That process is what we call science.

In recent days, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison confirmed to media outlets the government was reviewing ambiguous legislation that allowed parents to object to immunisations for personal or philosophical reasons.

It’s strange that Minister Morrison describes this legislation as ‘ambiguous’. It is anything but. The legislation describes exactly how those who object to getting their children vaccinated can still access government entitlements. And the important word there is ‘entitlements’ — because these are things that ALL citizens and residents of Australia are entitled to. Our Federal Government is signatory to many international treaties and codes that enshrine our right to make free, informed health choices.

In fact, the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC), and various other government and medical industry bodies all state — quite unambiguously — that they support this right and that it is one of their core values.

So is Minister Morrison unaware of these facts? Or was he elected into public office to protect a multi-trillion-dollar international business model (that of Big Pharma) instead of the rights and needs of his constituents?

Mullumbimby’s Alison Gaylard, a founding member of Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters, hoped the review would go some way towards improving the North Coast’s immunisation rates, which were the worst in the country in 2014.

The vaccination rates may or may not be “the worst in the country”, but no matter how bad they are, they are still orders of magnitude higher than they were in 1991, when our rate of infectious diseases such as whooping cough was far lower than it is today. So we have had an overall increase in vaccination rates along with a concomitant increase in disease. How, then, is it possible to blame the unvaccinated? And yet, read on and see that Ms Gaylard does just that!

Ms Gaylard helped start the group after her two daughters became ill with whooping cough.

Please note that both Ms Gaylard’s daughters had been vaccinated against whooping cough. Read that again: they had been vaccinated. The vaccine failed them both. But Ms Gaylard, rather than face up to the known ineffectiveness of the vaccine (not conjecture on my part: many, many studies have and still do demonstrate that the vaccinated may be unprotected), Ms Gaylard blames some nameless, faceless unvaccinated people for the failure of the vaccine to protect her children.

If I go out for a drive today and run into a light pole, I have as much right blame the full moon or the orange juice I had for breakfast as Ms Gaylard has to blame the unvaccinated for the failure of a vaccine. In fact, I would go further and state that placing the blame on the unvaccinated is not only unscientific and without any evidence; it is plain dumb.

We have a high number of conscientious objectors in this area, especially in Mullumbimby. I think it will (improve immunisation rates),” she said.

Well, no doubt there are some families who will vaccinate their children because they rely on government payments to put food on the table, a roof over their head, and clothes on their children’s backs. It is those least able to afford these financial penalties who are being targeted and who will be most likely to make the decision to vaccinate purely for financial reasons. Do we really want to live in a society in which people are forced to give their children medical procedures that — let’s face it — have real and (in some cases) quantifiable risks, against the informed choice of those who love them most, their parents? In my case, the answer is, no: I do not want to live in such a society. It is immoral, unethical, undemocratic, and just plain wrong. If there is a risk, there must always be a choice.

We have a high number of people who’ve bought into the anti-vaccination stance, so as to whether they’ll be concerned about whether they’ll lose childcare benefits or facilities, I’m unsure how it’ll impact here. We’ll be watching with interest. Our demographic here is so diverse.”

Those who have “bought into the anti-vaccination stance” — which is how Ms Gaylard and her ilk characterise anybody who doesn’t buy into their peculiar brand of magical thinking — have generally made their choice after:

1- having a child who was injured or killed by a vaccine or vaccines;

2- knowing someone who was injured or killed by a vaccine or vaccines; and/or

3- spending many hours (commonly in the hundreds or thousands of hours) researching this issue for themselves.

After all, it is so easy to say yes to vaccination; it is far harder to say no in today’s society. So that decision must be respected by a government that is truly representative of its citizen’s rights.

Ms Gaylard said there was indisputable evidence regarding immunisation’s benefits.

I would welcome Ms Gaylard’s providing such “indisputable evidence” of vaccination’s benefits. Calling vaccinations immunisations is the first clue that Ms Gaylard has no idea what she is talking about since even immunologists and paediatricians admit that vaccines don’t immunise and therefore, the words cannot truthfully be used interchangeably.

If Ms Gaylard is a woman of her word, I would like to challenge her to a public debate on this issue. Since she is so sure she has this “indisputable evidence”, let her present it in a fair and open forum to allow those in attendance to hear and see it and decide that for themselves.

If she feels that she is not qualified to present the facts behind the benefits and safety of vaccination, she is more than welcome to find a medical professional, government health official, or anyone else to take her place.

Come to the party, Alison. If you really are firm in your convictions, support them with the evidence.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

Latest update on Healthy Kids checks

Some aspects of this policy have started to become a lot clearer after discussions with a representative of the Department of Health, but there are still grave concerns about the implications of requiring that certain segments of Australian society (this check is only required for families who are eligible for the Family Tax Benefit Part A – in other words, those who have a lower income than the average) must comply with this policy and how these checks can be used by certain medicos to harass, abuse or victimise those who have made choices the doctor does not agree with.

Here is where all of this stands so far. I will be writing up a facsimile letter and giving out a list of politicians who need to be contacted to oppose this legislation and its implementation either today or tomorrow as well so please be ready to get involved with this initiative and to let others know about this as well.

Right now, due to the introduction of new legislation, anyone with a child aged between 4 and 5 years of age will be required to submit their child to a special medical examination in order to receive their Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement payment which is close to $800 from the government. This examination is basically a report card on your ability to parent your child ‘properly’ according to mainstream medicine. Next year, a mandatory mental health check will be added to the mix though as of Friday when I spoke with a representative of the Department of Health, they had no idea how this would be implemented – whether the checks would be performed by GPs or psychiatrists or specially-trained clinic nurses. Talk about legislation on the fly!

Now you MUST give your child all vaccines up to the age of 4 in order to get one of these Healthy Kids Checks (part of the Healthy Start to School initiative) but if you don’t vaccinate, you can still get the examination – you simply will not be able to get the same medicare rebate. This is a special medicare code which is used to reimburse doctors for this check since it is a long office visit and would generally cost more money. The government has agreed to pay this extra amount for the long visits as long as doctors use this code. They can ONLY use this code if your child is vaccinated up to the age of 4 years old – and many people will be getting the checks at the same time as they get their children vaccinated.

If you are not vaccinating or not vaccinating fully, the doctor can’t use the code but will have to use one of the other, regular codes and from what I understand, this may cost parents more money out of pocket.

Also, please read the following text which is concerning:

In circumstances where a parent/guardian chooses not to immunise their child, the Healthy Kids Check cannot be provided as a service for which an MBS rebate may be claimed. A medical practitioner may choose to provide a service that mirrors the Healthy Kids Check, but that service would not be regarded as a Healthy Kids Check for the purpose of Medicare billing.

It is left up to the doctor to choose whether or not to provide a service that mirrors the healthy kids check but if they don’t choose to do so, then the visit will most likely cost the parents quite a bit out of pocket. Since many doctors have become quite abusive to families who have chosen not to vaccinate, I can imagine that we may see a lot of parents paying quite a bit of money to get these checks performed in order to get their supplementary payment.

There are a couple of questions that I have which the contact at the Department of Health says she will be looking into and get back to me on.

Has the government put in place exemptions for religions which do not ever see medical doctors such as Christian Scientists?

How does a parent let the government know that the Health Check has been completed? Is there a form that needs to be filled in and is the doctor required by law to fill this in if the parents present for the health check? (believe it or not, there was no immediate answer to these two questions which seem to me at least, to be pretty basic!)

It seems that these Health Checks for parents who were receiving certain government payments have been around and included in the health budget for some time now. Parents were not using them though so the government has decided to make them mandatory. Unfortunately however, neither the government nor the Department of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (who is administering this policy) have considered the implications of this potentially quite discriminatory policy. To me, this policy resembles the Northern Territory’s aboriginal intervention where a group is targeted due to their social or economic status and – due to the all-encompassing nature of the intervention – will help some but may harm others who are innocent of any wrongdoing.

Aside from the issues of religious freedom which must take precedence over government requirements such as this, there are the following points which will need to be addressed:

What if a parent brings their child to see the doctor and for whatever reason (the child is unvaccinated, he or she is being raised a vegetarian, the mother home-birthed or is using extended breastfeeding etc.) the doctor does not agree with the parenting of this particular child. What is in place to stop this doctor from stating that they feel this is an at-risk child and the parents need to do what they are told (vaccinate, feed meat, stop breastfeeding, etc.)? What is to prevent this doctor from reporting the family to the  Department of Community Services (DOCs) since it only takes the word of one doctor to ruin a family forever and there have been many examples of this happening before. I have seen this happen without the backing of legislation – how much more likely is it to occur when the legislation is there and the parents are going to be forced to front up to a GP?

I asked the representative I spoke with this question. Her answer was that it would be unfortunate if such overzealous behaviour were to be displayed but that parents would need to seek out a doctor who agrees with their health and parenting philosophies and who they feel comfortable with. I told her that there are many doctors like this in Australia but that most of them have waiting lists of 6 months or more and some have even closed their books for new patients. She had no answer for this except to stress that parents needed to be cautious about who they choose to see.

She said a notification that a child is ‘at risk’ was supposed to only be for emergency situations, but you reading this and I know very well that there are some doctors out there who are so arrogant, they believe their opinions are the only ones that matter and parents who don’t listen to their advice are obviously not doing the best by their children so those children need to be taken away.

The representative suggested that I read through the various Health Department Charters and the Charters on Patient Rights which are available in each state. I now have a list of willing volunteers who I hope to put to work doing just that this week to see if there is any information that can be used to help protect families against any of these abuses by the medical profession. The best result, however, would be to overturn this legislation and get rid of the legal requirement for families to take their children for these health checks.

Below is a link to a flyer that has been prepared for parents by the government on the requirement to get this Health Check for your child. There are links to the legislation and the ‘template’ of questions that doctors will be asking parents on an earlier blog. Please consider sharing this blog with friends and family members and, when the facsimile letter has been finished, sending a copy off to the politicians noted as the more people who write, the greater the effect will be when we lobby Parliament next month.

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