Monday, 12 July 2010

Australian Vaccination Network accused of harassment

Don't let the name fool you, the Australian Vaccination Network is nothing of the sort. The reality is that they are the "Anti-Vaccination Network".

The ABC reported that the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission recently released a report that accuses the AVN of providing inaccurate information to people and that they harassed the parents of Dana McCaffery.

Dana McCaffery was 32 days old when she died. The cause was pertussis, whooping cough, and at her age needed the herd immunity afforded to her by the community. Unfortunately she didn't get it. In an open letter on their website dedicated to Dana the McCafferys point out that the area they moved to had one of the lowest levels of immunisation. The area in question is also very close to the AVN headquarters.

According to the ABC article and this press release from the McCafferys the AVN decided the best time to start "investigating" Dana's death was the day before her funeral.

Of course the AVN don't really care. They consider the report to be biased because it's from the Government, and of course they are "pro-vaccination". They also claim that the commission has no jurisdiction over them.

According to the About Us page on the NSW HCCC website they say the following:

The Commission is an independent body that was established under the Health Care Complaints Act 1993. The Act defines the scope of the Commission's work, which is to:

  • receive and assess complaints relating to health service providers in NSW
  • resolve or assist in the resolution of complaints
  • investigate serious complaints that raise questions of public health and safety
  • prosecute serious complaints.
If spreading anti-vaccination "information" doesn't raise questions of public health and safety I don't know what does.

But I'm not expecting much of a change from the AVN, considering how the Lateline story (this is a link to the transcript though) shows rather well that they will just weasel their way out of the things that they've said. I've tried to find the source of the comment made in that report ("Isn't it incredible how they have made Dana into a martyr because she supposedly died from whooping cough..."), but I've had no luck. I suspect that the AVN have removed such quotes from their website.

And yet the battle isn't over, the AVN have a right of reply and I suspect that regardless of the outcome the AVN will declare victory.

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