There’s a website called the Australian Vaccination Network. By the name, you imagine it would be a great source of up to date and accurate information about vaccination. And I’m sure that’s what a lot of people think when they Google vaccination and find it sitting at the top of their results. Which is exactly what the AVN banks on. What they don’t tell you, is that the site is entirely anti-vaccination, is based on supposition, superstition and science so badly put together that, if people’s lives weren’t in danger, would be a joke.
This site was first recommended to me by a colleague. We were having the usual round of flu vaccinations and he wanted this website’s information to be circulated alongside the government information so people could make ‘an informed decision’. Always a fan of informed decisions, I spent some time looking over the site to get a feel for what it offered. At the end of an hour, I went back to my colleague with the results of my analysis. I told him that the website quotes no scientific studies, the ‘doctors’ making comments do not seem to have any qualifications in the field of immunology – so they aren’t experts and can’t refute the opinions of those doctors who are. I pointed out that the website deliberately misrepresents the false ‘link’ between vaccination and autism and ignores the fact that the doctor who made those claims has been de-registered for falsifying research.
I also gave my colleague multiple examples of how ‘issues’ with vaccinations mentioned on the site were the only thing they reported – and specifically and deliberately ignored the millions of lives that vaccinations have saved. Also ignored were the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been lost due to the ignorant and callous misrepresentation of the good that vaccinations could do.
My colleague simply shook his head and said, ‘I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree’.
It took me days to come to grips with the awful fact that some people are immune to facts. Alas, that’s what websites like these play upon.
This website, like so many others of its kind, is a serious attack both on science and the basic concept of evidence-based decisions. While it claims to offer a balance, it does the opposite, only highlighting the side-effects of vaccinations. It claims to be backed up by evidence – but it quotes none. It claims a name that suggests un-biased information – and yet, it is anything but.
But the AVN website is under notice. The NSW Health Complaints Commission is about to order them to put a warning on the site to say that it provides anti-vaccination information and that parents should seek medical advice. This comes after complaints that the AVN’s leader, Meryl Dorey, harassed the parents of a baby that died of whooping-cough. Dorey claims the cause of death was faked and on the day before the child’s funeral, was attempting to get the parents to agree!
Reading the transcript of the story on Lateline, it’s more than clear that Dorey cares nothing about the harm she inflicts and is instead, wholly involved in her own agenda – which consists of a conspiracy theory about the government and vaccination. Even her own comments show how she attempts to undermine the science involved in the diagnosis of the baby. She ducks and dodges questions like a true politician – which just shows how dangerous she is.
My colleague didn’t want to face up to the facts. Apparently, neither does Dorey. Hopefully, the NSW HCC will ensure they both do.
- Anti-vaccination group loses status (news.theage.com.au)
- I’m dancing on the grave of Meryl Dorey’s charitable status (hjhop.blogspot.com)
- AVN loses its charity status (skepacabra.wordpress.com)
- Panel Approves Whooping Cough Vaccine For Seniors (zocdoc.com)