measles in africa, vaccination africa, measles

Measles deaths in Africa

The following article is by Greg Beattie, author of Vaccination: A Parent’s Dilemma and the more recent Fooling Ourselves on the Fundamental Value of Vaccines. It was originally published on the REAL Australian Sceptics blog and bears repeating.

This information and the graphs included are excerpted from Mr Beattie’s latest book. It demonstrates very clearly that a true sceptic will not necessarily believe in headlines such as “Measles deaths in Africa plunge by 91%” without seeing the proof of those claims. Question everything – accept nothing at face value – that is the credo of the true sceptic.

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
Bertrand Russell

Africa, measles africa, vaccination africa
0.450–0.499 0.400–0.449 0.350–0.399 0.300–0.349 under 0.300 n/a (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are not one to follow the news, you may have missed it. Others will have undoubtedly seen a stream of good-newsstories over the past five years, such as:

Measles Deaths In Africa Plunge By 91%[1],[2]

There have been many versions on the theme; the percentage rates have changed over time. However, the bodies of the stories leave us in no doubt as to the reason for their headlines. Here are some direct quotes:

In a rare public health success story on the world’s most beleaguered continent, Africa has slashed deaths from measles by 91 per cent since 2000 thanks to an immunization drive.

An ambitious global immunization drive has cut measles deaths…

Measles deaths in Africa have fallen as child vaccination rates have risen.

These stories represent a modern-day version of the belief that vaccines vanquished the killer diseases of the past. There is something deeply disturbing about the stories, and it is not immediately apparent. The fact is: no-one knows how many people died of measles in Africa. No-one! Not last year and not ten years ago.

I will repeat that. No-one knows how many measles deaths have occurred in Africa. So, where did these figures come from? I will explain that in this blog. In a nutshell, they were calculated on a spreadsheet, using a formula. You may be surprised when you see how simple the method was.

We all believe these stories, because we have no reason to doubt them. The only people who would have questioned them were those who were aware that the deaths had not been counted. One of these was World Health Organisation (WHO) head of Health Evidence and Statistics, who reprimanded the authors of the original report (on which the stories were based) in an editorial published in the Bulletin of the WHO, as I will discuss shortly. Unfortunately, by then the train was already runaway. The stories had taken off virally through the worldwide media.

Overview

First, an overview of the formula. The authors looked at it this way: for every million vaccines given out, we hope to save ‘X’ lives. From that premise, we simply count how many million vaccines we gave out, and multiply that by ‘X’ to calculate how many lives (we think) we have saved. That is how the figures were arrived at.

The stories and the formula are both products of a deep belief in the power of vaccines. We think the stories report facts, but instead they report hopes.

The nuts and bolts

Hardly any of the willing participants in spreading the stories bothered to check where the figures came from, and what they meant. That was possibly understandable. Why would we need to check them? After all, they were produced by experts: respected researchers, and reputable organisations such as UNICEF, American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, and the World Health Organisation.

However, I did check them. I checked because I knew the developing world wasn’t collecting cause of death data that could provide such figures[3]. In fact, it is currently estimated that only 25 million of the 60 million deaths that occur each year are even registered, let alone have reliable cause-of-death information[4]. Sub-Saharan Africa, where a large proportion of measles deaths are thought to occur, still had an estimated death registration of only around 10%[5] in 2006, and virtually no reliable cause-of-death data. Even sample demographic surveys, although considered accurate, were not collecting cause-of-death data that allowed for these figures to be reported. Simply put, this was not real data: the figures had to be estimates.

I was curious as to how the estimates were arrived at, so I traced back to the source—an article in The Lancet, written by a team from the Measles Initiative[6]. After reading the article, I realised the reports were not measles deaths at all. They were planning estimates, or predictions. In other words, they represented outcomes that the Measles Initiative had hoped to achieve, through conducting vaccination programs.

Don’t get me wrong. We all know that planning and predicting are very useful, even necessary activities, but it is obvious they are not the same as measuring outcomes.

The title of the original report from the Measles Initiative reads, “Has the 2005 measles mortality reduction goal been achieved? A natural history modelling study.[7] The authors took one and a half pages to explain how natural history modelling applied here. I will simplify it in about ten lines. I realise that in doing so, some may accuse me of editorial vandalism, however I assure you what follows captures the essence of the method. The rest is detail. If you are interested in confirming this, I urge you to read the original article for that detail. Here we go… the formula at the heart of the stories:

My interpretation of the Measles Natural History Modelling Study

  1. Open a blank spreadsheet
  2. Enter population data for each year from 2000 to 2006
  3. Enter measles vaccine coverage for each of the years also
  4. Assume all people develop measles if not vaccinated
  5. Assume vaccination prevents 85-95% of measles cases
  6. Calculate how many measles cases were ‘prevented’ each year (using the above figures)
  7. Calculate how many measles deaths were ‘prevented’ each year (using historical case-fatality ratios)

There, simple. As you can see, this is a typical approach if we are modelling,for predictive purposes. Using a spreadsheet to predict outcomes of various plans helps us set targets, and develop strategies. When it comes to evaluating the result of our plan however we need to go out into the field, and measure what happened. We must never simply return to the same spreadsheet. But this is precisely what the Measles Initiative team did. And the publishing world swallowed it—hook, line and sinker.

As mentioned earlier, WHO Health Evidence and Statistics head, Dr Kenji Shibuya, saw the problem with this method. Writing editorially in the Bulletin of the WHO, under the title “Decide monitoring strategies before setting targets”, Shibuya had this to say[8]:

Unfortunately, the MDG[9] monitoring process relies heavily on predicted statistics.

…the assessment of a recent change in measles mortality from vaccination is mostly based on statistics predicted from a set of covariates… It is understandable that estimating causes of death over time is a difficult task. However, that is no reason for us to avoid measuring it when we can also measure the quantity of interest directly; otherwise the global health community would continue to monitor progress on a spreadsheet with limited empirical basis. This is simply not acceptable. [emphasis mine]

This mismatch was created partly by the demand for more timely statistics …and partly by a lack of data and effective measurement strategies among statistics producers. Users must be realistic, as annual data on representative cause-specific mortality are difficult to obtain without complete civil registration or sample registration systems

If such data are needed, the global health community must seek indicators that are valid, reliable and comparable, and must invest in data collection (e.g. adjusting facility-based data by using other representative data sources).

Regardless of new disease-specific initiatives or the broader WHO Strategic Objectives, the key is to focus on a small set of relevant indicators for which well defined strategies for monitoring progress are available. Only by doing so will the global health community be able to show what works and what fails.

In simple terms, Shibuya was saying:

  • We know it is difficult to estimate measles deaths, but
  • You should have tried, because you attracted a lot of interest
  • Instead, you simply went back to the same spreadsheet you used to make the plan—and that is unacceptable!
  • If you want to make a claim about your results, you need to measure the outcomes and collect valid data
  • Until you do, you cannot say whether your plan ‘worked’

Unfortunately, by the time Shibuya’s editorial was published, the media had already been trumpeting the stories for more than a year, because the Measles Initiative announced its news to a waiting media before subjecting it to peer-review. So, without scientific scrutiny, the stories were unleashed into a world hungry for good news, especially concerning the developing world. The result… the reports were welcomed, accepted, and regurgitated to a degree where official scrutiny now seems to have the effect of a drop in a bucket.

The question of who was responsible for this miscarriage of publishing justice plagued me for a while. Was it the architects of the original report? Or was it the robotic section of our media (that part that exists because of a lack of funds for employing real journalists) who spread the message virally to every corner of the globe, without checking it?

One quote which really stands out in the stories is from former director of the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“The clear message from this achievement is that the strategy works,” said CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding

What strategy works? Is she talking about modelling on a spreadsheet? Or, using the predictions in place of real outcomes? More recent reports from the Measles Initiative indicate the team are continuing with this deceptive approach. In their latest report[10] it is estimated 12.7 million deaths were averted between 2000-2008. All were calculated on their spreadsheet, and all were attributed to vaccination, for the simple reason that it was the only variable on the spreadsheet that was under their control. And still there is no scrutiny of the claims. Furthermore, the authors make no effort to clarify in the public mind that the figures are nothing but planning estimates.

No proof

Supporters of vaccination might argue that this does not prove vaccines are of no use. I agree. In fact,let me say it first: none of this provides any evidence whatsoever of the value of vaccination. That is the crux of the matter. The media stories have trumpeted the success of the plan, and given us all a pat on the back for making it happen. But the stories are fabrications. The only aspect of them which is factual is that which tells us vaccination rates have increased.

Some ‘real’ good-news?

General mortality rates in Africa are going down. That means deaths from all causesare reducing. How do we know this? Because an inter-agency group, led by UNICEF and WHO, has been evaluating demographic survey data in countries that do not have adequate death registration data. These surveys have been going on for more than 50 years. One of the reasons they do this is to monitor trends in mortality; particularly infant, and under-five mortality.

Although the health burden in developing countries is inequitably high, there is reason to be positive when we view these trends. Deaths are declining and, according to the best available estimates, have been steadily doing so for a considerable time; well over 50 years.

One of the most useful indicators of a country’s health transition is its under-5 mortality rate: that is, the death rate for children below five years old. The best estimates available for Africa show a steady decline in under-5 mortality rate, of around 1.8% per year, since 1950[11]. Figure 1 shows this decline from 1960 onward[12]. It also shows the infant mortality rate[13]. Both are plotted as averages of all countries in the WHO region of Africa.

Figure 1. Child mortality, Africa

This graph may appear complex, but it is not difficult to read. The two thick lines running horizontally through the graph are the infant (the lower blue line) and under-5 (the upper black line) mortality rates per 1000 from 1960 to 2009. The handful of finer lines which commence in 1980, at a low point, and shoot upward over the following decade, represent the introduction of the various vaccines. The vertical scale on the right side of the graph shows the rate at which children were vaccinated with each of these shots.

The primary purpose of this graph (as well as that in Figure 2) is to deliver the real good-news. We see a slowly, but steadily improving situation. Death rates for infants and young children are declining. I decided to add the extra lines (for vaccines) to illustrate that they appear to have had no impact on the declining childhood mortality rates; at least, not a positive impact. If they were as useful as we have been led to believe, these vaccines (covering seven illnesses) would surely have resulted in a sharp downward deviation from the established trend. As we can see, this did not occur.

In Africa, the vaccines were introduced at the start of the 1980s and, within a decade, reached more than half the children. The only effect observable in the mortality rates, is a slowing of the downward trend. In other words, if anything were to be drawn from this, it would be that the introduction of the vaccines was counter-productive. One could argue that the later increase in vaccine coverage (after the year 2000) was followed by a return to the same decline observed prior to the vaccines. However, that does not line up. The return to the prior decline predates it, by around five years.

With both interpretations we are splitting hairs. Since we are discussing an intervention that has been marketed as a modern miracle, we should see a marked effect on the trend. We don’t.

The WHO region of Africa (also referred to as sub-Saharan Africa) is where a substantial portion of the world’s poor-health burden is thought to exist. The country that is believed to share the majority of worldwide child mortality burden with sub-Saharan Africa is India, in the WHO south-east Asia region. Together, the African and South-east Asian regions were thought in 1999 to bear 85% of the world’s measles deaths[14]. Figure 2 shows India’s declining infant and under-5 mortality rates, over the past 50 years. Again, the introduction of various vaccines is also shown.

Figure 2. Child mortality, India

And again, vaccines do not appear to have contributed. Mortality rates simply continued their steady decline. We commenced mass vaccination (for seven illnesses) from the late 1980s but there was no visible impact on the child mortality trends.

In a nutshell, what happened in the developed world is still happening in the yet-to-finish-developing world, only it started later, and is taking longer. The processes of providing clean water, good nourishment, adequate housing, education and employment, freedom from poverty, as well as proper care of the sick, have been on-going in poor countries.

I would have loved to go back further in time with these graphs but unfortunately I was not able to locate the data. I did uncover one graph in an issue of the Bulletin of the WHO, showing the under-5 mortality rate in sub-Saharan Africa to be an estimated 350 in 1950[15]. It subsequently dropped to around 175 by 1980, before vaccines figured. It continued dropping, though slower, to 129 by 2008[16].

The decline represents a substantial health transition, and a lot of lives saved. When cause-of-death data improves, or at least some genuine effort is made to establish credible estimates of measles deaths, it will undoubtedly be found they are dropping as well. Why wouldn’t they? This is good news, and all praise needs to be directed at the architects and supporters of the international activities that are helping to achieve improvements in the real determinants of health. In the midst of all the hype, I trust we will not swallow attempts to give the credit to vaccines… again.

I am not confident, however. I feel this is simply history repeating itself. Deaths from infectious disease will reach an acceptable “low” in developing countries, at some point in time. And although this will probably be due to a range of improvements in poverty, sanitation, nutrition and education, I feel vaccines will be given the credit. To support the claim, numerous pieces of evidence will be paraded, such as:

Measles Deaths In Africa Plunge By 91%

We need to purge these pieces of “evidence” if we are to have rational discussion. The public have a right to know that these reports are based on fabricated figures.  Otherwise, the relative importance of vaccines in future health policy will be further exaggerated.


[1]    Medical News Today 30Nov 2007; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/90237.php

[2]    UNICEF Joint press release; http://www.unicef.org/media/media_41969.html

[3]    Jaffar et al. Effects of misclassification of causes of death on the power of a trial to assess the efficacy of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in The Gambia; International Journal of Epidemiology 2003;32:430-436 http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/32/3/430

[4]    Save lives by counting the dead; An interview with Prof Prabhat Jha, Bulletin of the World Health Organisation 2010;88:171–172

[5]    Counting the dead is essential for health: Bull WHO Volume 84, Number 3, March 2006, 161-256 http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/84/3/interview0306/en/index.html

[6]    Launched in 2001, the Measles Initiative is an international partnership committed to reducing measles deaths worldwide, and led by the American Red Cross, CDC, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, and WHO. Additional information available at http://www.measlesinitiative.org

[7]    Wolfson et al. Has the 2005 measles mortality reduction goal been achieved? A natural history modelling study; Lancet 2007; 369: 191–200 Available from http://www.measlesinitiative.org/mi-files/Reports/Measles%20Mortality%20Reduction/Global/Wolfson%20Lancet2007_Measles_Mortality_Reduction.pdf

[8]    Kenji Shibuya. Decide monitoring strategies before setting targets; Bulletin of the World Health Organization June 2007, 85 (6) http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/85/6/07-042887/en/index.html

[9]    MDG – Millennium Development Goals, to be discussed shortly in this chapter.

[10]  Dabbagh et al. Global Measles Mortality, 2000–2008; Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. 2009;58(47):1321-1326 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/714345

[11]  Garenne & Gakusi. Health transitions in sub-Saharan Africa: overview of mortality trends in children under five years old (1950-2000);  Bull WHO June 2006, 84(6) p472 http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/84/6/470.pdf

[12]  If you perform a ‘google’ search for ‘infant mortality rate’ or ‘under-5 mortality rate’ you will locate a google service that provides most of this data. It is downloadable in spreadsheet form by clicking on the ‘More info’ link.  http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.DYN.MORT/countries/1W-US?display=graph :Vaccine coverage data is available from the WHO website http://www.childinfo.org/files/Immunization_Summary_2008_r6.pdf

[13]  Infant mortality rate is “under-1 year of age” mortality rate.

[15]  Garenne & Gakusi. Health transitions in sub-Saharan Africa: overview of mortality trends in children under five years old (1950-2000);  Bull WHO June 2006, 84(6) p472 http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/84/6/470.pdf

Who’s REALLY picking cherries, Jane?

I got an email from my old ‘friend’, Jane Hansen this morning and really, it’s been far too long since we two have communicated. You know how it is. Life gets busy, kids are growing, places to go, people to see…

cherry cartoon

But Jane took the time to drop me a quick line and for that, I’m very grateful

I had just sent a copy of Dr Brian Martin’s latest article, News with a negative frame: a vaccination case study, to some social networking pages I follow and the email lists I help maintain. And darned if I didn’t forget to include Jane on that email – so sorry! But all’s well because she got the email anyway.

For those who haven’t yet read this article, I highly recommend you do! It concerns negative and biased coverage regarding Dr Judy Wilyman’s PhD from the University of Wollongong by Kylar Loussikian of the Australian newspaper in particular, and the Australian media in general.

You see, there are some journalists out there who apparently believe that those who hold a contrary position on scientific issues (such as vaccination) should not be able to obtain a PhD – nor, it seems, should they be allowed a voice in the public debate. Hard to imagine, I know!

And Jane, bless her little heart, appears to be one of those journalists too. Jane, we really do have to talk…

In her usual spontaneous style, Jane’s email to me was direct and straight to the point:

You’re the queen of twisting truth Meryl

Gardasil is one of the most heavily studies vaccines around and one of the most effective. To ignore the vast body of science on this is pure ignorance.

Now Jane, I really am trying to work with you on this – really! But I have searched Dr Martin’s article for even one mention of Gardasil and it might surprise you (or not) to know that it is not mentioned even once. There is a short mention of HPV – the virus that Gardasil is meant to protect against – but that mention is made, not to discuss the science behind HPV vaccination, but simply to quote a paragraph from the Australian newspaper article in question.

So, trying to be helpful because after all, I really ‘get’ you, I offered the following response:

Did you actually read the article, Jane? If so, what is your objection to what Dr Martin has said? Where has he gone wrong? Please feel free to share your insight on this article with either myself or Dr Martin.

He was most particularly NOT not talking about the science behind vaccination which is what leads me to believe that you did not read the article you are replying to. Dr Martin was speaking about how the media uses language to frame an argument in such a way that the truth of matters is ignored and instead, a particular barrow is pushed based purely on what it is the media wishes to propound.
Please read Dr Martin’s article and if you have any criticisms, I am sure he would be most happy to hear them and to respond to you.
Meryl
PS – why are you bringing up Gardasil? What did that have to do with Dr Martin’s article or Dr Wilyman’s PhD from the UOW? You seem to have strayed very far from the point, Jane.

Instead of thanking me for so kindly and politely pointing out the errors of your way, Jane, you instead sent me the following email:

I don’t engage with cherry pickers. Goodbye

Well! May I remind you, Jane, that you were the one who contacted me! So any engagement was totally and absolutely down to you.

Is this any way to carry on a conversation? You start talking and when someone gives a reasoned and civil reply, you attack them and storm off in a virtual huff? That’s neither mature nor is it productive.

These are Australia’s children we are talking about here, Jane. Their health, wellbeing and their very lives. Don’t they deserve better than what you are giving them?

Oh, forgive me! How silly.

I seem to have forgotten that you work for Murdoch.

Forget I said anything.

by Meryl Dorey

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the nocompulsoryvaccination blog. This blog is a forum, support and information site 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.

The Fallacy of False Balance

 

17319874_sAs you probably know, thousands of Australians marched in every capital city in Australia on June 21st to protest against the Abbott government’s planned “No Jab, No Pay” legislation.

The only reason you would know this is because you read about it on Facebook, or on this blog or another website since NONE of the Australian media actually attended or covered these marches. Some independent outlets such as tottnews.com and Fair Dinkum Radio did, but the majority of Australians who will be affected by this new legislation are totally unaware of the potential implications of these tyrannical government moves or of the efforts to oppose them.

The reason for this news blackout is a policy that has government and ‘scientific community’ approval called False Balance.

According to False Balance, there are some issues that are so widely accepted, it would be wrong to report on them except from the point of view of the mainstream.

Climate change is one of these issues and I personally have very little knowledge of those who oppose climate change, but the fact is that those who oppose the government view have had their concerns suppressed and denigrated by mainstream media.

The dangers of fluoride is another such issue and has been for decades, despite mountains of scientific proof that fluoride does not improve the risk of dental caries and can cause significant harm to the health of the population.

Information on vaccination risks and ineffectiveness, however, is the single issue which the media, the government and the medical community have been trying with all their might to completely obliterate. To the point of censorship. To the point of criminalising those who even ask reasonable scientific questions. To the point of destroying the careers of scientists and researchers who have done studies pointing to valid concerns about the harms vaccines can and do cause and the obvious corruption involved in pharmaceutically-sponsored vaccine ‘studies’.

The excuse for this suppression and censorship is False Balance.

Now, I truly believe that the Australian (and world) population is intelligent and discerning enough to view both sides of any scientific issue – as long as they are given information in order to become educated about it. That is what I have always believed but apparently, neither our elected government nor the media agree with that viewpoint.

Because they say that allowing Australians to hear both sides of the vaccination debate is False Balance. That the scientific data proving that – for a percentage of those who receive vaccines – the outcomes can be fatal or life-changing and/or the vaccines themselves may not work to prevent disease or make the person healthy will ‘confuse’ us; that we are not capable of understanding or making our own decisions and as a result, we need the government to tell us what to do with our children’s and our own bodies.

The only excuse for exercising censorship in the name of False Balance is an incorrect assumption that Australians are too stupid to read or view information and understand how that information relates to their own lives.

False Balance is the reason why every single doctor, medical authority, scientist and health minister has said no when challenged to present their information on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to a live audience. In fact, even when the magazine I used to publish, Informed Choice, asked for an article on the benefits of vaccination, that request was declined by everyone who was asked.

Using False Balance, the government and the medical community can continue to hide behind their lies about vaccination. They can persist in making claims that are completely unsupported by evidence (such as the claims that vaccines don’t cause reactions or deaths; and that vaccines will only work if everyone takes them).

There is no such thing as false balance – there is only freedom of information and the ability to make decisions without fear of bullying, financial penalties or other forms of duress.

 

 

Strangers to the Truth

By Meryl Dorey

Hi there, and hasn’t it been a long time since I’ve posted anything to this blog? That’s because I’ve been on a sabbatical in the U.S. with my sisters since the middle of August this year. I got back into Australia on December 18th and am settling back in, happy to be home (though not happy about the heat!).

I want to thank Stop the AVN (SAVN) and their mates at the Australian (Pseudo) Skeptics for waiting until my return to stir up trouble – it would have been terrible to have missed all the fun!

Now, I have a front-row seat to view the excitement and am enjoying seeing them lather themselves into a frenzy of terror at the idea that – shock, horror – parents may be able to hear a medical doctor provide referenced, scientific information demonstrating that vaccines don’t always work as expected and may cause harm and even death in an unknown number of those who take them.

The truth is being told”, says Jack Skeptic – “we can’t have that!”

No worries”, replies Jill Skeptic; “I believe in science, so we will pull in our tame pollies and journos and handle this situation quick smart!”

Giving Pinocchio a run for his money

13760385_sBut I have to say that there are a LOT of long noses appearing in SAVN’s camp.

As you probably have already heard, Dr Sherri Tenpenny is coming out from the U.S. to speak to parents about the risks and ineffectiveness of vaccines. (And if you support the right to free and open communication about this issue, I urge you to click this link and book your tickets to the seminar nearest you as well as the dinner with Dr Tenpenny.) These seminars will, according to SAVN, cause the end of the world as we know it and they must be stopped! SAVN have even gone so far as to approach the Minister for Immigration to demand that he cancel the travel visas of Dr Tenpenny and other speakers coming in from overseas. Incredible, I know; but these are the same people who approached the Minister for Immigration to try to get me deported a couple of years back because I question the medical mantra regarding vaccination. Unfortunately for them, I’m an Australian citizen, so things didn’t quite go as well as they had expected.

Bad publicity is good publicity

Publicity like this – even if most of it is negative – can’t be bought. And the constant shrill cries of “Cancel her visa – and off with her head!” from that lovely gang of terrorists has gotten even the most pro-vaccination among us scratching their heads and asking, “Why?”.

The truth hurts

First, I was approached by a producer at The Project – a programme with a long history of not reporting fairly on this subject. His name was James Pattison, and he said that he wanted to interview me regarding Dr Tenpenny’s speaking tour. I explained that neither I nor the AVN were organisers of these events, and that I could not comment on what would be covered at the seminars, but I would be happy to discuss the freedom-of-speech aspects. The only stipulations I had were that they devote more than the 2 minutes planned for the piece (since this is a serious issue and deserves more time to do it justice) and that the interview be live so that they couldn’t quote me or any of the other speakers out of context.

James checked with his higher-ups, and approval was given. In addition, we agreed, that he would get his supervisor to send me the list of questions prior to the crew arriving. A camera crew would be out just after 5:30PM to go live to air at 6:30 PM.

At 4:31 that afternoon, James left a message on my answering machine saying that they couldn’t go ahead with the interview. When I called him back, he said that because I was in regional NSW, they were unable to get a camera crew here. They were, however, able to get a crew out to Allison Gaylard’s house in Mullimbimby, 20 minutes away.  I guess there must be some kind of territory for these things, and that I am right outside of it. So sad!

For those who have never heard of Ms Gaylard, she is a founding member of the Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporter Group – an organisation set up to help increase the vaccination rate on the Far North Coast of NSW because the tens of millions of dollars spent by Federal and State governments on vaccine promotion apparently aren’t working!

Ms Gaylard has two fully vaccinated children who contracted whooping cough several years ago. Despite this evidence of vaccine failure, Ms Gaylard lays the blame for her children’s illness at the door of some imaginary unvaccinated children, stating that the ‘low’ vaccination rate in this area meant that there wasn’t herd immunity and that, according to her, herd immunity would have stopped the bugs, germs and viruses from “penetrating in”.

But back to The Project

Members of SAVN were reporting that The Project had a blanket policy to never interview anyone with an opposing viewpoint on the vaccination issue – freedom of speech at its finest – and that poor James, being new on the show, had been unaware of that policy.

Word to the wise, Jimmy, me boy-o: if you have to compromise your word over this issue, how many more times will you be asked to do so, and how far are you willing to go to keep that job?

But, then again, James may have felt justified if he’d listened to the lying liars at SAVN. Liars like the brave, anonymous Ancient Illyria (cited below) who told him at 1:54 PM on the 7th of January that I was ”…telling people that she [I] refused to go on the show.”

James Pattison

The ridiculous thing is, Illyria linked to the post below where I specifically stated that I had been asked to go on the show but The Project had not followed through.

The Project

Whoopsies, Illyria, I smell something burning! Could it possibly be your pants?

Then, I was interviewed on Canberra Radio, 2CC along with Ken McLeod, one of the founding members of SAVN.

Ken uttered some real corkers! He claims that Dr Tenpenny had stated that vaccinations were the cause of many mass murders in the U.S., including the Sandy Hook shooting.

His ‘evidence’ for this is a Facebook posting Dr Tenpenny made back in 2012:

Sherri Tenpenny

The article Dr Tenpenny referred to can be found at this link. It was written by the mother of a violent child who posed the question – why is my son like this? Why are so many children in America like this and who is going to take care of them and prevent them from committing the tragic mass murders that are becoming so much more common of late?

Did Dr Tenpenny say that vaccinations caused the Sandy Hook shootings? Of course not! Anyone with a brain (which apparently excludes many of SAVN’s most prominent voices) knows that she didn’t. She posited that vaccinations, antibiotics, fluoride, GMOs, and environmental chemicals – all of which are known to be able to adversely affect the brain – could have contributed to the increase in mental illness and violence in the U.S.

Is this a controversial statement? Not at all – it is based in science. It is simply not considered to be politically correct.

So Ken McLeod – no stranger to quoting things out of context in order to make it appear that vaccine sceptics are wrong or worse – has done that again on the radio. No big surprise there. Just another shameful exaggeration to advance his aim of suppressing our right to discuss health issues in Australia.

A case of mistaken identity

Lastly, and most amusingly, a SAVN member posted on the SAVN’s Facebook page, “Banned from the AVN: Celebrate it Here”.

Joey

He claims to have been right next to me and my family at Sydney Airport this morning whilst I was returning from a trip overseas. Apparently, I am very sick and spreading germs, and he announced who I was at the top of his lungs in the terminal, loudly enough so that I and my family were able to hear it. Unfortunately for him however, I was up in Bangalow at the time and haven’t been at Sydney Airport since December 18th!

My deepest sympathy to that poor woman who must bear some sort of resemblance to me. It can’t be easy to have to go through life being mistaken for someone so hated by so many lunatics!

Speak up or be judged by the company you keep

It is obvious that some SAVN members are complete strangers to the truth. I don’t judge them all on the behaviour of their ‘leaders’, but I do judge them for being members of a hate group that is actively trying to suppress and censor debate on a scientific issue. And I judge them for not speaking up and opposing the hatred being spewed by the group they have joined. Their silence speaks volumes.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces that 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 all have 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 necessary to make informed health choices.

Apparently “…there’s nothing to debate”

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.

sopa-censorship-billBrisbane 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.)Government Censorship

APRIL 9
“…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.

————————————

APRIL 13
“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:

APRIL 25
“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.

Free SpeechWhat’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.

Please read the attached Right to Information documents (part 1 and part 2) to follow the trail of suppression by health officials in both the Queensland and the Commonwealth governments.

Further analysis will be available on this blog in coming days.

Timeline to a Tragedy: Part 1 – Did Incompetence, Lies and a Government Cover-up Lead to Deaths?

Timeline to a Tragedy: Part 2 – The Cover-Up Deepens

Timeline to a Tragedy: Part 3 – Lessons Go Unlearned

Dangerous information

15744035_s

by Meryl Dorey

Just about every government authority in Australia and overseas is trying to describe those who question the wisdom of mass vaccination as being a danger to society. In fact, they are working hard to frame the entire debate as being dangerous – as though just discussing, researching and considering whether or not vaccination is in your or your child’s best interest is somehow spreading deadly diseases in the community.

A US business writer recently responded to a balanced presentation on the HPV vaccine by television journalist Katie Couric by saying, “Merely to ask questions is to validate them.

And an article published on The Conversation website by an industry front-group conducting a public campaign called I Immunise”, claimed that the decision about whether or not one should vaccinate one’s children is an ethical issue – not a matter for scientific debate. The article stated that people who question vaccination are suffering from something called “competitive crunchiness” which basically leads them to reject many of the ‘benefits’ of the modern scientific world and breastfeed, choose organic foods, cloth nappies and reject vaccines.

According to the article:

“I Immunise” does what other Australian campaigns have not: it leads with values rather than facts.”

Perhaps they are rejecting facts because those same facts might show that there is a legitimate area of concern when it comes to vaccination and values don’t even get a look-in when parents are trying to care for their precious children – unless they mean the value we each place on the life, health and happiness of our family?

Where does the real danger lie?

So is it more dangerous to ask questions about medical procedures or to take at face value the information given to us by the medical profession and the government?

Allopathic medicine and government bureaucracies have a long and chequered history of deadly errors, mistakes and outright lies told for the purpose of self-protection, profit and increasing one’s own personal prestige. Trusting them without asking questions would be like buying a used car without checking under the bonnet first, or jumping off a cliff before seeing if there was a deep pool below you. It could be dangerous, possibly expensive and foolhardy in the extreme.

The real danger to the public is not in the dissemination of information – even if that information is wrong. We have to trust that people are intelligent enough to sort the wheat from the chaff. We don’t need to tell people what they can and cannot know – we simply need to give them a broad range of information and let them decide for themselves.

The only people placed at risk by open, transparent and public debate on health issues are those who will lose out – financially and reputation-wise – by the discovery that vaccine and medical ‘science’ may be more guesswork and corruption than fact.

When we see academics, politicians, scientists and government officials telling us that it is dangerous to question them or to listen to those who do – we must see that the real danger lies with believing what they say.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces that 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 should have 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.

Anti-Chiropractic Gag Proposal by Oz Media

The following letter has been forwarded to me by one of our members and I felt it was important to share this with you. It was sent to the Sydney Morning Herald after an especially rabid article was published in that paper about a series of talks presented by Dr Tim O’Shea, author of many books and articles including Vaccination is not Immunization previously known as The Sanctity of Human Blood.

As we have seen so often, the journalist – a person whose livelihood depends upon the freedom to communicate – joined the call to suppress the rights of others to do the same.

These attempts to stifle scientific debate and to censor or even punish (in the words of Dr Steve Hambleton, head of the doctor’s union – the AMA) those whose research has led them to be critical of medical procedures is shocking and shameful. Please read this letter and remember that while most people get their information from mainstream media, most of the information found in that location has been corrupted by vested interests and should not be trusted. Feel free to share and reblog this letter.

On 9 March, there was an attack by Oz media against chiropractic in general and myself in particular. Just found out about it in my junk folder. My response:

To:

Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
Legal, Sydney Morning Heraldvaccination-is-not-immunization-2012
Editor, Australian Doctor
Legal, Australian Doctor
CAA, Dr T. Shakespeare

RE: Ongoing anti-chiropractic campaign

Good morning all:

I am Dr Tim O’Shea, a US chiropractor and educator. Looks like I may have jumped into the middle of something, or maybe it’s just a slow news period all around.

I first became aware of this new media agenda on chiropractic a few weeks ago when I got a phone call on a Sunday afternoon from someone who said he was a writer for a ‘leading newspaper’ in Australia, and he was writing a piece about chiropractic. He’d got my name somehow, probably because I had given some seminars there about 6 months ago.

He told me he was writing an article about a proposal to gag DCs from talking about vaccines. I asked him had he read my book. No. Had he attended the seminar? No. Had he spoken to anyone who had? No. Had he read any of the numerous articles on immunology from my site? No. Was he interested in doing any of that footwork? No. When did he have to turn in the article? In 2 hours, he said.

That was pretty much my introduction to the calibre of Australian journalism, which has proven to be fairly consistent to this point. So this admitted dilettante was obviously just looking for a quirky, newsworthy quote to add to the hearsay he already had, in order to get his 1000 words. Anything besides actually doing the research, right?

At that point the call was disconnected. Next day I got an email from the same ‘journalist’ who apparently got an extension. But still not enough to do any background reading whatsoever.

I located the ‘journal’ he claimed to be employed by – a very homespun, backwoodsy sort of website, from which it was impossible to discern whether it was an actual printed magazine or just an online blog. Leading Australian newspaper? Hope not. I was particularly bemused by the piece on the front page implying that chiropractic was child abuse.

A casual perusal made it soon apparent what the requisite slant of this boilerplate publication was – denigration of anything natural or holistic, sanctification of all things pharmaceutical, with the mandatory condescending omniscience. Not exactly a novel approach.

So I gave the email the response it merited, along with a few referrals to some native Australian authorities in the area of vaccines in particular – Dr Archie Kalokerinos, Dr Viera Scheibner, Meryl Nass, etc. But again, no interest there – because that would mean researching into the actual subject matter itself, in an effort to understand what one is actually writing about, etc.

The next step in creating this smear campaign was to dream up a hook – Australian chiropractors being taught accredited courses against vaccines, etc. Here is where the editor had to come in, taxing his imagination and powers of innuendo, to give legs to something so wholly insubstantial, mundane, and un-newsworthy. Let slip the pups of war. This fact may be critical in any future discovery.

The result was true yellow journalism, in the worst muckraking tradition – the Herald article of 9 March [1] entitled “Anti-vaccination physicians training chiropractors” by an individual calling herself Amy Corderoy.

This copy and paste artist at least did exert a little more effort than just a phone call to get her 1000 words. But here we see the epitome of the basest fluff tabloid technique – slow news day, no news to report, so let’s create some news. What’s the editor’s hook to be – the angle, the catch phrase? “Anti-vaccination” and “chiropractors” both in the same headline. Magic. Then we’ll apply it to an ordinary, non-news event, and voila’! – we now have a story.

Freedom-of-Speech-Lost-by-Ahdieh-AshrafiDoesn’t matter if it’s true or not – 10 minutes on Wikipedia, a string of innuendo, out-of-context misquotes, start a conflagration of pure invention, and let’s run with it. We’ve got a deadline.

So, let’s look at Amy here. Was she present at the seminars she’s fantasizing about? No. Did she speak to anyone who was? Clearly, no. Has she ever read the textbook? Obviously not. Any evidence she spent more than 5 minutes on the enormous website? Certainly not. Does she contact me for an interview? Of course not. No time for that – that would mean actually going into the subject matter. So where is the data for this op-ed puff piece coming from? Baseless, inflammatory rhetoric. Any academic requirements beyond a high school diploma to be the “Health Editor”?

But this isn’t education here – no, this is selling newspapers, by pandering to the lowest common denominator of intelligence – speed readers of the SMH. Substance, facts, references, cognition… no need for any of that. We’re not in the business of reporting news; we create it.

Anti-vaccine? First off, anyone who has actually attended my seminars or has ever read the textbook knows that I am not anti-vaccine, as I unequivocally state. I am in favor of any vaccine that has been tested by independent studies and proven to be safe, effective, and necessary. Period. To twist my words otherwise is flagrant prevarication, not excusable just because it provides fodder for today’s dinner story. But without that hook, there is no story, is there?

It is undeniable fact that there is an enormous body of research and controversy surrounding vaccines, and has been for decades.

In my course work we look at both sides of the vaccine debate, showing their respective strengths and weaknesses. Anyone who has ever attended will know that. Am I to be paraphrased by some lurid tabloid who has never looked at any of my sourced material, as they invent their own version of it?

With her false and inflammatory assertions, Amy now seeks to create a media bonfire. She claims to have informed the AMA of her “discovery” and asked them to comment. Next she starts freely quoting Steve Hambleton, who also was not present, nor has ever bought the textbook, who now is going to hold forth about what does and does not happen at chiropractic CE seminars. Since he’s attended so many. And he knows this how? Hearsay from a local ‘health writer’? Please. This source apparently was worth interviewing, because his quotes support the contrived fantasy – that chiropractors are being taught to be anti-vaccine, etc

Amy’s invention next includes the out of context “quotes” from an unidentified ‘radio interview,’ mandatory in any sort of he-said she-said type hack job. My writing and course work are so extensive that I’m sure a case could be made that I support just about any political agenda one can dream up, by cutting and pasting phrases and stringing them together, with a running editorial agenda.

But it’s the next paragraph about vaccine courses that tips their hand: “Still more are taught by chiropractors associated with the Australian Vaccination Network….” Even if that were true, what now becomes clear is that this article is part of Australia media’s ongoing attack aimed at chiropractors.

The pervasive illusion this article strives for is that chiropractors are the sole source of opposition to today’s vaccine policy. If only we can get rid of chiropractors talking about vaccines, – or better yet – get rid of chiropractors, then everything will be fine, and no one will criticize global vaccine policy any more….

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The issue that Amy’s handlers desperately try to hide is something called Global Dialogue. For the past century, there has been a worldwide debate surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines. It is gaining momentum everywhere, especially in the past 5 years. Americans are asking why mandated vaccines have tripled since the 1980s and yet our children have the worst health of any industrialized nation on earth, with exponential increases in degenerative and infectious diseases. This too is undisputed fact.

But the ongoing dialogue is global, and it’s definitely not coming from the chiropractic or even the alternative medicine community. This is the thesis of my entire course work on immunology – that the questioning of today’s vaccine policy is coming almost exclusively from medical doctors, mainstream science, and mainstream law. My vaccine textbook is unassailable, because every fact I state, every statistic I offer is documented by one of the 350 references in the back. How many of them are chiropractic sources? Virtually none.

So why are chiropractors being attacked?

My seminars have been accredited not just for doctors of chiropractic, but for dentists, nurses, acupuncturists, and naturopaths as well. And many MDs will attend. Because they’re all interested in the global nature of the course material.iStock_000009433175XSmall.jpg

Most of the endorsements for my textbook are from medical doctors. Thousands of medical doctors today are opting out of vaccines for their own children, unless the vaccines are proven safe, effective and necessary. Most cannot speak out. But they are part of the global dialogue on vaccines.

The majority of my references are from scientists and manufacturers of vaccines, and primary researchers in the field of childhood immunology. Not chiropractors. The fact that I am a chiropractor is irrelevant to the discussion. I could be a shepherd and the validity of the textbook argument would be unchanged. [Kiwis would likely prefer that.] I’m simply a lit searcher, citing the best science available.

Here are some undisputed facts being pondered in today’s global debate on vaccines:

The FDA estimates that less than 10% of actual vaccine injuries are ever reported

Manufacturers don’t risk their own capital in researching new vaccines; they receive NIH grants

If a vaccine is approved, the manufacturer gets the patent and reaps profits of $1 billion/year or more

No manufacturer is liable for vaccine deaths or injuries

The approval body – The FDA Advisory Committee – ACIP – is made up entirely of vax industry personnel

Vaccine manufacturers do not have to disclose all ingredients

There are over 300 new vaccines in development

There has never been a clinical trial with an unvaccinated control group

What do these facts have to do with chiropractic? Nothing. This is not a chiropractic gauntlet. Most chiropractors I know vaccinate. If all chiropractors on earth were vaporized tomorrow, the global debate on the value of today’s vaccines would continue, completely unaffected.

In this case, the objective of Oz media is to end the dialogue. The issue isn’t whether you are pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. It’s between Pro-dialogue and Anti-dialogue.

Who will be allowed to participate in the vaccine dialogue? Everyone except chiropractors, apparently. So let’s be clear about this – a doctor of chiropractic, who by law has academically equivalent hours in the basic sciences to an MD, is now going to be gagged from discussing a subject that anyone else may freely discuss? Is that the size of it?

They actually passed such a draconian law in Canada a few years ago that did just that : gagged DCs from discussing vaccines. Anyone else could talk about them unfettered: food clerks, felons, circus performers, illegals, lawyers, health editors – anyone besides chiropractors. Canadian courts proved a little more sophisticated, however and eventually reversed the decision, with the help of people like Dr Steven Silk. I would urge anyone considering the folly of pursuing such a Josef Goebbels-type agenda in Oz to consider your long term liability. Look at the Canadian story.

Intriguing was Hambleton’s alleged remark about “unscientific treatments. Each profession will be judged by its weakest link, and that’s why we had concerns about adding potentially unscientific professions….”

I couldn’t agree more. That is precisely the focus of the global dialogue on vaccines: the definition of scientific. There is a growing concern in many countries today that economic and political decisions are eclipsing strictly scientific issues in the formulation, approval, and administration of vaccines. Again, these misgivings are not coming from the chiropractic profession, but from mainstream doctors, formulators, and scientists. Do we really want to put a gag on who is allowed to take part in the global discussion?

True science is always evolving, always inviting the next question, always describing its own limitations. If vaccines are going to deserve the mantle of ‘scientific,’ they are going to have to stand up to the full scrutiny of evaluation from any legitimate quarter. We are injecting some 68 of them into our children at this time. It is not something to be cavalier about or use as a pawn on the chessboard of interprofessional chicken fights. Either something is scientific or it isn’t. Let’s not bandy the word about carelessly, pretending any of us has a monopoly on its use.

Looking at Amy’s article again, we see that she herself claims the right that Regulators would deny chiropractors: the right to discuss vaccines: “Immunisation has saved hundreds of millions of lives.” She cites no source for that figure – that is her opinion. A phrase like “according to the CDC” does not follow. Why isn’t this practicing medicine without a license – giving medical advice without a license? What are her credentials? A high school graduate can make public pronouncements on vaccines but a doctor of chiropractic cannot.

How far do we want to take this? Whom else are we going to muzzle– acupuncturists, osteopaths, dentists, massage therapists, estheticians, homeopaths, naturopaths, optometrists, podiatrists, personal trainers, coaches…? Are we going to pass individual laws gagging each one of these professions? Or are we just going to single out chiropractors? If so, now we’re talking about profiling, professional bigotry, persecution, and legal repercussions.

Or maybe we’ll just decide to gag anyone who doesn’t vaccinate. Statistically, 15% of the general population will not vaccinate. Will we now pass laws for all those exempting their children, forbidding them from the public discussion of vaccines?

Or better yet, why not silence anyone who isn’t involved directly in the sales and administration of vaccines from even mentioning the word vaccines. Science as religion? What will be the definition of Informed Consent when parents can get information about vaccines only from those selling vaccines? Is this not the precise intent of the current Oz media campaign? Or the AMA?

Do you see where this logic is heading, once we pretend that Regulators can arbitrarily single out certain targeted groups to lose Freedom of Speech on certain topics? It’s a slippery slope indeed, from which there is no return.

If vaccines are so wonderful, why do we suddenly now have to pass laws to keep people from talking about them? What is it that we’re hiding? Any truly valuable medicines will be voluntarily sought after by the public. With $12 billion annual advertising, the number of people opting out of vaccines is inexorably rising, even with the new agenda to put an end to philosophical exemptions. So now we want to force people to get vaccines, and at the same time we’re going to pass laws to prevent people from even talking about vaccines?

I thought Australians were smarter that Americans.

This isn’t Nazi Germany. Yet. A free society, any democratic republic, is predicated upon the principle of free exchange of ideas – free speech. Which side wants to muzzle the other side here – those selling vaccines or those questioning vaccines? Be docile, don’t question us, and trust us. It’s for your own good. Now please board the train…

Do they really think this is going to fly in 2013, the age of Facebook and the iphone, where everything one says is instantly broadcast to the world?

Everybody knows why this non-story chiropractors/vaccines fiction came to life. We all know who is media’s #1 advertiser: medicine. In deciding to print any article, the criteria your invisible editor must use are those who buy the most ads. Not rocket science here.

Next, let’s look at the one sided nature of this smear piece on chiropractic. No defense of the chiropractic position in this controversy was presented, except for the two truncated, out of context comments at the very end. No one quoted defends chiropractic. This seems for some like an opportunity to trot out all the old anti chiropractic skeletons and turn back the clock 50 years.

In the US, the AMA has no regulatory jurisdiction over chiropractic. Presuming the same is true in Oz, what possible reason would their media decide to interview the AMA, if not to create a fluff news story of out innuendo and hearsay, to see what inflammatory quotes might thus be evoked? The chiropractic profession exists in most states and countries only after years of legislative and regulatory decisions, none of which requires the permission of the AMA or any other voluntary professional association. Need we be reminded of the Wilk vs. AMA case of the 1980s, the anti-trust suit wherein the AMA was found guilty of trying systematically to destroy chiropractic in the US? Which they lost after spending over $10 million in the defense.

What was that lesson about ignoring history again…?

Is it time for a refresher course on the difference between libel and slander?

Despite what organized medicine would like to pretend, vaccines are not mandatory, in any country. If they were, none of this discussion would exist, because we would all be required by law to be vaccinated. At the present time however, anyone can get an exemption from vaccines, if that is their inclination.

Since that is so, the concept of the informed decision then becomes paramount. Thousands of parents opt out of vaccines for their children all over the world, not because they are hoodwinked by chiropractors, but because they have done considerable research, that is available everywhere. So now those vested in the sale of vaccines want to decree that information about vaccines be disseminated only by those who are in the business of vaccine sales? How are they going to do that?

We must be very careful when we see this phrase ‘informed decision.’ It has only one true significance: familiarizing oneself with the best data on both sides of the debate. And the best data is not rhetoric, slogans, mantras, or threats. No, the best data is referenced, thoroughly and meticulously, so that the reader need not believe what the speaker is saying, but may look up the primary sources first-hand.

Beware of those who would redefine the Informed Decision as one that has been reached only by consulting the sellers of vaccines. Let’s never pretend that their issue isn’t first and last an economic one.

I’m not trying to keep vaccines from anyone who wants them. I believe everyone should be able to get all the vaccines they want. And forced to get none. If the staff of the SMH wants to get twice the recommended vaccines, that’s fine – it’s their choice. But when it comes to forcing that choice on everybody else, that’s where we have to draw the line. That’s where Medical Freedom comes in.

One of the most basic rights of parents anywhere is the right to protect their own children by making the best decisions for them. Especially in the area of health. If the sources of information available to parents becomes censored and controlled only by vested interests – the sellers of medicines – what must inevitably follow is the end of Medical Freedom.

I am certainly not anti medicine. It has saved my life on more than one occasion. Nor am I anti-vaccine, for the last time. I am pro science, in the classical sense of the word. But mostly I am pro dialogue, and as such I do not see the value in excluding any legitimate data from the discussion just because it offends the sensibilities of people who made up their minds on everything 25 years ago. Or those who have a vested interest in relegating this decision to a black and white template.

This issue is too critical to the genetics of our children to let arrogance and personal hubris supervene the discussion. It’s no longer supportable to say either all vaccines are good or all vaccines are bad. This is an exponentially expanding area of inquiry at this point in time.

So. There it is. The twin agenda of Oz media is crystal clear in this instance: Anti-chiropractic, and Anti- dialogue. They will certainly never be accused of cleverness, or subtlety. Anyone who would give credence to such a poorly-crafted chimera as these provincial media have conjured up, and see it as anything other than a salacious, self-serving attempt to create news out of events that never existed – well, they’d best be prepared to suffer the consequences of being so ill-informed.

Fairly confident that neither of these publications will print this response. Because I have committed the Unspoken Forbidden here – I have gone into the actual subject matter. Mea culpa. Fortunately, by 2013 we no longer need to rely on their declining readership in order to expose this outright assault against both Medical Freedom and Academic Freedom in Australia.

The word is out.

Wakey, Wakey – You MUST take action now!

16039428_sA couple of weeks ago, I wrote to you about the fact that human rights legislation was being considered in Parliament. This legislation could potentially block our basic rights to speak about and make decisions regarding our health. (I will be providing an update on this situation tomorrow)

Many, many of you wrote letters to Parliamentarians and some have even had responses indicating that the concerns expressed would be seriously considered. People power in action!

Now, on a related matter, an Australian homeopath, Fran Sheffield, is being taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for having the temerity to upload a page on her business website, Homeopathy Plus, referencing studies which indicate that the whooping cough vaccine could be less effective than we’ve been told. To make matters even worse, this page also states that people might want to investigate the homeopathic option for disease prevention!

Make no mistake – this action by the ACCC could be seen by some as an attempt by a government department to suppress debate on the vaccination issue. It might also the first step in restricting the practice of homeopathy in Australia – especially when considering this action in combination with the current inquiry (or should that be inquisition?) into natural therapies in Australia.

So much hinges on this case!

If this case were to be lost in the Federal Court, the results could be disastrous for all of us

There is the potential for a precedent to be set whereby the federal government could use a negative decision as a bludgeoning tool to prevent the AVN, health professionals or anyone else from openly discussing information critical of current vaccination policies (or any other natural healthcare option such as chiropractic, naturopathy, herbs, etc.). The internet and the media could then be censored further and people could be left with no option but to use mainstream medical doctors and drug-based therapies even if that would not normally be their first choice.

So though it might appear on the surface that this court case is only concerned with one practitioner in one particular modality, in actuality, this is an important battlefront in the wider war we are currently fighting to protect our rights to free speech and informed choice.

It is vital, therefore, that we join with Fran and Homeopathy Plus in opposing these efforts to tell us what we can and cannot discuss. If we don’t and the case is lost, an extremely dangerous precedent will be set.

A bit of history

Early last year, Ms Sheffield was first contacted by the ACCC because she had an article on her website which discussed the failure of the whooping cough vaccine to prevent an outbreak of whooping cough that has been raging through highly-vaccinated populations worldwide. She also provided information on homeopathic treatment and prevention. The ACCC said that she needed to remove the article or face potential prosecution. At that time, Fran told the ACCC she would remove the article to fact check it but if she found it to be correct, it would go back online. Her contact at the ACCC told her they would be watching and if the same or similar ‘claims’ were reinstated, legal proceedings could commence.

The article was checked, found to be factual and returned to the website in a slightly revised version. Because of ongoing complaints about a range of articles by people seemingly intent on suppressing information about homeopathy, Fran decided to start a private members-only area on her website for any information that could be considered contentious. Those who were interested would still be able to access the information they wanted while those upset by homeopathy would no longer be troubled. This section is where the new article was placed.

In contravention to the terms and conditions of the Homeopathy Plus website which they signed and agreed to, the ACCC entered the member’s area and copied and removed the revised articles and laid charges against Fran, her husband and Homeopathy Plus.

A few things are important to note:

  • The information in the article on the Homeopathy Plus website was correct. It was referenced and it is the same information that can be found on literally hundreds if not thousands of other websites across the internet, in newspapers, scholarly journals, magazines and on television sets.
  • This information was not controversial. It is well-known within the scientific community that the whooping cough vaccine is not working well nor does it protect for long if any protection is conveyed at all. There is evidence which indicates that the current vaccine may make people more susceptible to other bacteria which cause clinically indistinguishable illnesses (b. parapertussis) and that the shot may have caused a more severe form of the disease which is more likely to kill infants and children.
  • It is a fact, based on government figures, that we are seeing higher numbers of cases today with our close to 95% vaccination compliance than we did 50 years ago with very low levels of vaccination. These facts cannot be disputed – they are just not supposed to be told to the public, apparently.
  • The ACCC is not saying that Ms Sheffield or Homeopathy Plus have hurt or defrauded anyone – nor has anyone lodged a complaint to say they have. They are saying that they disagree with what she has said on her website and based on that disagreement, she has to stop saying it. They appear to be claiming that those who make statements the government does not like are not allowed to speak. Think about the implications of this abuse of power for a little while…

In their more recent correspondence with Ms Sheffield, the ACCC stated that according to their opinion, the page on her website which discusses whooping cough:

“…contain[s] representations which convey the impression that the current vaccine is ineffective in protecting against whooping cough and that homeopathic remedies are a safe and effective alternative approach for the prevention and/or treatment, of whooping cough.

“The ACCC considers the above pages to contain potentially misleading and deceptive

statements, which potentially create a false or misleading representation that: the whooping cough vaccine is of a particular standard or quality; and that homeopathic remedies for whooping cough are of a particular standard or quality and/or have a use or benefit.

“Consequently, the ACCC intends to institute proceedings against Homeopathy Plus! Australia Pty Ltd for alleged contraventions of sections 18, 29(1 )(a), 29(1)(b) and 29(1)(g) of the Australian Consumer Law.

“The ACCC will be seeking orders for declarations, injunctions (including an interlocutory injunction), pecuniary penalties and costs.”

Rights? What Rights?

Here, just as with the AVN, we see government departments making politically-charged decisions about what a person can and cannot say about the safety or effectiveness of a drug or vaccine. In other words, because the government supports full vaccination and opposes our right to use alternatives, none of us is allowed to discuss those alternatives without being subject to legal action. But are these really the actions of a properly constituted democracy? Should people living in a free land be afraid to speak their mind about issues they feel passionate about? Does the government really think it is appropriate to censor public debate on health issues? And lastly, should the ACCC which is meant to protect consumers against fraudulent businesses really be involved with protecting the government by revoking the rights of consumers to communicate freely on such a vital issue?

Ms Sheffield is not backing down – but she can’t do this alone!

Ms Sheffield attended court in Sydney on March 1st for a directions hearing. Her seriously ill husband, who is also a respondent in this case, was unable to go due to poor health.

The email notifying of them of the charges arrived late in the afternoon on Wednesday, February 20th, leaving them only 8 days to find representation and prepare. All of the court papers which were served on her were stamped “Fast Tracked” – something which is normally only done in emergency cases such as when a person’s life or health is at risk. Ms Sheffield felt that she was being treated like one of Australia’s Most Wanted for simply stating verifiable information which can be freely found in many locations.

Fran is totally unfunded and, had a barrister not come forward at the last minute to help, she intended to represent herself because she simply couldn’t afford to pay for legal help.

Throughout this process, she has tried hard to work with the ACCC and to take all reasonable steps to ensure that she complied with the law without giving in to restrictive and anti-democratic demands from government operatives. Now however, she has now reached the point where she has been pushed as far as she can go and feels it is time to stand up for her rights and the rights of all Australians.

Will you help?

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Edmund Burke

The court date has been set for August 26th, 2013, but Fran must find and retain a solicitor to instruct the barrister by early this week. In addition, due to the importance of this case for anyone concerned with freedom and rights, Fran is actively seeking the assistance of a QC as part of her legal team. Conservative estimates are that she will need at least $50,000 to pay for legal and court costs – an incredible amount of money in one lump – but not so much if you split it up.

There are at least 600 homeopaths in Australia. Fran isn’t fighting for her company, Homeopathy Plus – she is fighting for the rights of all homeopaths and natural therapies as well as for those who choose to use natural therapies as part of their healthcare options. If every homeopath reading this were to deposit $50 into the fighting fund that has been started – and everyone can afford $50 – that would add up to $30,000 right there! Not a big ask – but a very big result.

There have to be at least that many people reading this who regularly use homeopathy (or other natural therapies which are likewise under threat). And remember, this matter goes well beyond what can and can’t be said by natural therapists but whether we have the right to question government information on vaccines. Can you spare $50 to help protect your right to free expression and choice?

Can every chiropractor, naturopath, osteopath, Bowen therapist, Chinese herbalist (the list goes on and on) donate $50 to this very worthwhile and important cause? Can you do it this week? Can you let your patients, friends and families know and ask them to make a donation as well – no matter how small?

You MUST act today!

Make no mistake: by citing Ms Sheffield for making statements that the government disagrees with, the ACCC appears to be openly saying that Australians are not allowed to dissent from accepted opinion.

Not only that, but if the court decrees that a government department can punish Ms Sheffield for information held in a private, member’s-only section of her website, no association, business or group will be safe. This could set a precedent that can and will affect everyone in Australia. Criticise the government (or the medical cartel or any powerful interest group) at your peril.

This situation is outrageous and not what we expect from a democracy such as Australia. It is time to say “Stop!”

Please send your support today and post this information onto your Facebook pages; Tweet about it; put it up on Pinterest or on other social media sites. Send this to any email lists you may be involved with. Help spread the word in any way you can. Whatever you do, please DO get involved as without your immediate action and assistance … the rights we value will be taken away.

Send what you can – $10, $15, $50, $100 or more to the Fran Sheffield Fighting Fund’s to stop this dangerous precedent in its tracks.

You can pay in any of the following ways:

FAX your credit card details and the amount you want to give to 02 4044 0153 (international faxes: +612 4044 0153)

Make a paypal payment to fransheffield@homeopathyplus.com.au.

Direct deposit funds into the following designated account – be sure to email Ms Sheffield at fransheffield@homeopathyplus.com.au to let her know about your payment so she can send you a receipt.

Westpac Account: Fighting Fund

BSB: 032 627

Account: 198475

The legal team representing this important issue is still being put together. If you area solicitor, barrister or Queens Counsel and are as concerned as we are about this case and would like to help, please send an email to Fran at fransheffield@homeopathyplus.com.au

Government puts boot into the AVN, Democracy and the Truth

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As many of you would have seen, the NSW Department of Fair Trading has announced that they want the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to change its name because of concern from within the community. Yet in their response to the media, the only one who complained was the Australian Medical Association – an industry lobby group who obviously feels threatened by the idea that parents might choose not to vaccinate – costing them money. Is this not anti-competitive behaviour on the part of a government department? Should government bodies really be cooperating so closely with those who hold strong vested interests in opposition to the interests of the public – interests which they are supposedly meant to protect?

The Department’s open cooperation with the AMA is analogous to them responding to complaints by mining companies about Greenpeace’s name. After all, Greenpeace is not green, nor do they go around looking for peace, therefore, would the Department tell them to change their name too? How about the Cancer Council? Couldn’t someone be misled into thinking that they are FOR cancer? And the Department of Health? Don’t get me started! The Department of Ill-Health would be more accurate in my opinion.

Community concern?

The saga started back in August of this year when the Department sent the following letter to the AVN’s office (please click on the image below to view it at full size in your browser)

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On September 7th, I sent the following response to Mr Jones at the Department of Fair Trading and, having never received a response from him, I assumed that this government body realised how misguided it was to try to stop our group based solely on our name (which had been registered with them since 1996). It seems however, that I overestimated the maturity of government agencies!

Don Jones 07 09 12 re Name Change

Yesterday, the following letter was hand-delivered to my home by two Department of Fair Trading officials. I was not home to accept the letter since I was attending a conference on bullying at the time – pretty ironic, don’t you think? They had come to our home about 2 hours earlier looking for a different address – and it took them almost 2 hours to find the correct location. This is despite the fact that the Department of Fair Trading has had our physical address on file for many years.

In this letter, the Department is ordering the AVN to change our name or they will deregister us come February 2013, effectively closing our organisation down – apparently a long-time goal of government departments, the Australian Skeptics and Stop the AVN as well as the AMA and the pharmaceutical industry.

Hand-delivered letter re-name change

What’s in a name?

As I said in my letter of September 7th:

The Australian Vaccination Network has been registered with the Department of Fair Trading since 1996 and at no time until the present has our name been called into question. We represent a group of Australians who discuss the issue of vaccination and we are also a network of like-minded individuals who have banded together for mutual support and for the dissemination of information on the issues surrounding vaccination in Australia. Can you please inform us which of these words – Australian – Vaccination – Network, could possibly be considered to not represent our organisation? Which of these words does the Department consider to be misleading and why? Also, can you please inform us of what name the Department would consider to be appropriate for our organisation?

To date, I have not received an answer to any of my questions nor has the Department acknowledged the AVN’s concerns in any way.

In newspaper articles which have appeared in today’s papers, the Minister for Fair Trading (perhaps they might consider changing that name because at least in the present situation, it is extremely misleading!), Mr Roberts, stated that, ”People do not have the freedom of choice when it comes to endangering others … it’s the equivalent of saying a bloke can speed down the road and endanger others,” So I ask – is Mr Roberts saying that vaccination is not a choice anymore and does he have any evidence to back up the claim that freedom of choice when it comes to vaccination is endangering others?  The outbreaks in highly vaccinated communities seems to say otherwise. In addition, it might appear that the Minister is be calling for vaccination to become compulsory in Australia when he states that people “do not have the freedom of choice”. This is an issue that should concern all of us – whether we choose to vaccinate fully, selectively or not at all.

The minister then goes on to state that he, “has warned other states if the AVN tries to register elsewhere.” We regularly hear of scam businesses and dangerous medical doctors who, being shut down in one state, immediately register in other states to continue practicing. Does the Minister for Fair Trading send the same APB out in these cases? Since they do this successfully time and time again, I would think he does not. Why the ‘special treatment’ for the AVN?

Whose pain and suffering are they talking about?

In the same article, it is stated that:

NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts fired a broadside at the AVN, saying the information it provided was a public safety issue of “life and death”.

“This is not a victimless issue, it’s about the ability to stop pain and suffering,” he said.

It’s great that Mr Roberts wants to stop pain and suffering, but where is his concern for those children and adults who have suffered as a result of vaccination? And is his Department really supposed to make their decisions based on medical information or simply based on whether or not our name is considered to be misleading in some way by some unknown and unstated measure? If they based their decision on medical information, what was the source of this data and did they seek a range of opinions?

Rights? What are these rights of which you speak?

Most frightening of all – to anyone who is interested in issues of human rights and freedom of speech, is the fact that the Assistant Commissioner for Fair Trading is actually proposing changes to the legislation based solely on their desire to be given more power to force organisations like the AVN to change their names:

Mr Vellar said the NSW Government was working on changing definitions in the Associations Act to include group names that were in conflict with the group’s charter.

Two very important points to make here:

1- This is the second government body which has proposed changes to government legislation in order to better attack the AVN. The HCCC, who we bested in the Supreme Court earlier this year, is trying to change the legislation which allowed us to win against them. Astoundingly, they want complaints to be valid no matter who files them – and the person complained about would not have to be a practitioner or to have treated or advised the complainant – they simply would need to have made a statement which ‘affected’ the complainant in some way. Such legislation would be so open for abuse it would leave every Australian at risk of being the victim of one of these complaints. The only exception proposed to this legislation would be medical practitioners. So the government body which was set up to protect Australians from dangerous practitioners seems to instead want to protect practitioners from Australians!

2- Mr Vellar says that our name is in conflict with our charter, but I believe that Mr Vellar has never even read our charter (I am assuming he means our publicly posted constitution and code of ethics since we don’t actually have a document called a charter) because if he had, he would see that our name is absolutely representative of what we stand for. Here is a link to our constitution and here is our code of ethics.

Blog overlap

The letter from the Department was handed to my daughter at approximately 11:45 AM and the first article appeared in the Australian media approximately 10 hours ago. But Skeptic blogs started to announce this information approximately one hour before the media did. How do you think they came by this information? I really do wonder. Is there a direct line of communication between the Australian Skeptics, Stop the AVN (SAVN) and government departments? There is a long and open history of collusion between media outlets and various ‘skeptics’ so it is not impossible that they heard about this letter before the AVN had even received it. Is this collusion one of the reasons why these departments have been ‘putting the boot’ into us for the last 4 years at an apparent cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayer? Is the fact that many SAVN members are actually employed by government departments – and use their government email addresses when writing about the AVN and wanting to close us down – cause for concern? I will leave those questions with you to ponder.

Abuse of process

According to Section 11 of the Associations Incorporation Act 2009,  the Director General must specify why a name is unacceptable in order to force an organisation to change it. As far as I have been able to determine, he has not done so in this case. In addition, despite our asking what name or names the Department would consider to be acceptable, we have been left in the dark. We have also never been told what part of the words “Australian Vaccination Network” are considered to be misleading. This puts the AVN and our 2,000 members in a difficult – even impossible position – in regards to complying or negotiating with the Department.

In addition, the Director General has not responded to the AVN’s submission of September 7th regarding the reasons why we believe that our name should not be changed. Not allowing us to communicate with them on this matter is, we believe, an abuse of process and evidence of procedural unfairness.

It’s not about health or fairness

This struggle has never been about something as ridiculous as our name. Instead, it concerns the right for an organisation to provide information to the public that government has neglected or refused to do. Why won’t the government exercise its duty of care and fully inform Australians about both the benefits and  the risks of this medical procedure? And  when will this policy of information suppression and suppression of dissent change? If the AVN is fully dismantled, access to full information and support for families whose children are vaccine injured is even less likely or possible. But does the government truly think that shutting down the AVN will stop parents from questioning? Questioning vaccination has been going on for over 200 years – closing down one small group will not change that. And surely the parents of Australia deserve better than that from their government departments!

Since winning our case in the NSW Supreme Court in April of this year, the AVN has been targeted on more than 10 different occasions by 7 separate government departments. It is hard to see how this can be anything but a blatant attempt by these departments – working closely with industry groups – to suppress dissent on a health issue. Forcing the AVN to close or change its name is not in the public interest – it is only in the interest of pharmaceutical companies, government policy and mainstream medical organisations.

Autism World – The Upcoming Mark Geier Appeal… Part One – What’s at Stake Here?

Autism World – The Upcoming Mark Geier Appeal… Part One – What’s at Stake Here?.

There are several US cases going on right now that are significant to the Autism World, one of which is the Mark Geier versus the Maryland Medical Board, a case which is simply waiting out the required timing to be filed in a real court.  Since the Autism World situation is without doubt, a microcosm of what is happening in US, and world, health care, the case is also of importance to the North American Health Freedom Movement.