Newsletter 150 Fake News on Vaccines in the Mainstream Media
10 March 2017
Are parents getting faith-based information on vaccines from politicians, religious leaders and journalists or are they receiving the evidence-based information that is being provided to pharmacists in the pharmacists newsletter - Are Vaccines Safe?
The people questioning vaccines include doctors from the International Medical Council on Vaccination, the World Association for Vaccine Education and American Physicians and Surgeons who have published an article titled "Combining Childhood Vaccines at One Visit is not Safe".
When the mainstream media presents false information on health issues by unqualified speakers, public health is put at risk. It also produces a situation where everyone's opinion is equally valuable and this nullifies the integrity of university research. It produces a society that believes in a "flat earth theory".
Currently the Australian media is presenting opinions on my PhD research from people who are not qualified to speak on the assessment of university research. False claims about my research have been made by reporters such as Kylar Loussikian (News Ltd) and also by activist, John Cunningham (a medical practitioner and administrator of the SAVN pro-vaccine lobby group). The opinions of these individuals are influencing public behaviour and resulting in politicians implementing dangerous legislation that is not in the public interest. For example, the No Jab No Pay Policy which Australian Public health officials would not debate.
Although I wrote an open letter to many journalists who have provided misleading information about my research, I have not received a reply from either the journalists or the University of Wollongong. Journalists are continuing to present this false information in articles, such as the one by Stephanie Peatling and Amy Remeikis, in the Sydney Morning Herald. This article represents propaganda and there is a lack of accountability for reporters presenting biased and false health information to the public. Here is a list of the false and misleading information provided by these SMH reporters:
1) It is organised pro-vaccine lobby groups (many funded by pharmaceutical companies) who are using social media to "muddy the evidence" and confuse the public with disinformation. Not parents who are concerned about children's health.
2) Informed consent to all medical interventions depends upon "choice", "education" and "alternatives". These words should not be dismissed by these journalists as unimportant or irrelevant.
3) It is pro-vaccine lobby groups who are assisting parents such as Mrs. Riley (2016) and Mrs.McCaffery (2009) to present "emotive and personal stories" to promote the whooping cough vaccine to the public. When academics point out that this is anecdotal evidence that is not used to develop policies on vaccines the pro-vaccine lobby groups use the media and social media to claim "parents are attacking grieving parents" or harassing them. The Australian Skeptic Inc lobby group that has a powerful voice in the Australian media also provided a financial award to the McCaffery's in 2009 for their involvement in promoting the whooping cough vaccine to the public (this is not to suggest that the McCaffery's were paid to promote the vaccine).
4) The pro-vaccine lobby groups, for example, Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN) have set up an Anti-Vax Wall of Shame, on facebook to tarnish the reputations of academics and professionals who provide the risks of vaccines that are listed in the medical literature. The blogs of these lobby groups, such as the deceptively titled "ReasonableHank" use abuse and ridicule to provide disinformation to the public on vaccines. These bloggers are associated with the Australian Skeptics Inc lobby group and most, such as Peter Tierney who runs ReasonableHank, do not have qualifications in vaccination science or policy. The SAVN lobby group suppresses academic debate with false and misleading information with the assistance of these bloggers.
5) It is the funded pro-vaccine lobby groups who are using "guerrilla social media techniques" to influence public behaviour on this issue - not the unfunded parents asking valid questions about the safety of vaccines for their children.
6) It is the influence of pharmaceutical companies in the mainstream media, government and universities that is skewing the medical literature to promote industry interests in government vaccination policies. And this is assisted by lobby groups being able to use the university procedures to present false and misleading information about academic research.
7) These SMH journalists are repeating the false claim that the link between vaccines and autism has been discredited.
8) It is the organised pro-vaccine lobby groups that are "quickly mobilised" and ringing talkback radio stations to air their views not the unfunded parents asking genuine questions.
8) These lobby group activists are falsely framing the debate and ignoring the bereaved parents of vaccine-injured children and others who know their life-time chronic illnesses are preventable if unnecessary. vaccines are removed from the schedule.
9) I will echo the comments by Professor Brian Owler, former president of the Australian Medical Association, and say that the consequences of not addressing the false claims made by the pro-vaccine, industry supported lobby groups is too dangerous.
10) Parents should not rely on the biased claims being made by news reporters, politicians, and industry funded lobby groups who are influencing media content and the internet. They should investigate for themselves using independent academic literature that is addressing the concerns regarding all childhood illnesses and vaccine injuries - not just those caused by infectious diseases.
Public Health is at risk until transparency in policy decisions is restored and until public debates of the scientific literature are not being suppressed by powerful lobby groups using the media and university processes. Here is a letter to the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, by Elizabeth Hart, requesting an urgent review of Australia's vaccination policies and a reassessment of the health outcomes of the No Jab No Pay legislation.
Dr. Judy Wilyman
The Science and Politics of Australian Vaccination Policies