Anti-vax team tar­gets Top End

Sunday Territorian - - FRONT PAGE - PHILLIPPA BUTT

NORTH­ERN sub­urbs res­i­dents have been let­ter dropped with pam­phlets by an­ti­vac­cine cam­paign­ers.

The pam­phlets, which fea­ture ques­tions in­clud­ing “is the HPV vac­cine caus­ing in­fer- tility” and “do vac­cines cause autism” have been slammed by North­ern Ter­ri­tory med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion NT pres­i­dent Robert Parker said the pam­phlets were dan­ger­ous to par­ents and chil­dren as they were fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect.

“Vac­cines have had a mas­sive ef­fect on im­prov­ing chil­dren’s health,” Mr Parker said.

NORTH­ERN sub­urbs res­i­dents have been tar­geted by anti-vac­cine cam­paign­ers, with pam­phlets dropped in let­ter­boxes.

The pam­phlets, which fea­ture ques­tions in­clud­ing “is the HPV vac­cine caus­ing in­fer­til­ity” and “do vac­cines cause autism” have been slammed by med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion NT pres­i­dent Robert Parker said the pam­phlets were dan­ger­ous as they were fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect.

“Vac­cines have had a mas­sive ef­fect on im­prov­ing chil­dren’s health,” he said.

“100 years ago we had diph­the­ria and measles. Peo­ple for­get these things ex­isted be­cause now we have vac­cines for them.”

Dr Parker said he uses one par­tic­u­lar story to try to con­vince non­be­liev­ers to vac­ci­nate their chil­dren. “The story I tell is of a woman who re­fuses to give her child the rubella vac­cine,” he said.

“20 years on, that child gets preg­nant, and while preg­nant she gets a rubella in­fec­tion. She then gives birth to a child with mas­sive birth de­fects.

“What that grand­mother has done is give her daugh­ter and her grand­daugh­ter a life­long sen­tence.

“What right have you got to do that to your child and grand­child?”

Dr Parker said the ev­i­dence clearly showed vac­cines were ef­fec­tive at elim­i­nat­ing dis­eases and im­prov­ing health.

“It’s had such a ma­jor in­flu­ence on so­ci­ety,” he said.

“It is un­for­tu­nate how quickly peo­ple for­get the ma­jor im­prove­ments in health over the last cen­tury due to im­mu­ni­sa­tion.” He said poorly re­searched papers had caused the anti-vac­cine move­ment.

In the late 1990s, An­drew Wake­field pub­lished a pa­per sug­gest­ing autism was re­lated to the measles-mumps-rubella vac­cine. The pa­per was un­able to prove a re­la­tion­ship.

Fur­ther ex­ten­sive re­search found there was ab­so­lutely no con­nec­tion be­tween the two.

It was also found that Wake­field had fal­si­fied in­for­ma­tion, had been paid by at­tor­neys seek­ing to file law­suits against vac­cine man­u­fac­tur­ers, and his ar­ti­cle was re­tracted. Wake­field also lost his med­i­cal li­cence.

In the NT, vac­ci­na­tion rates are be­low the na­tional av­er­age.

As of Septem­ber 2017, 93.16 per cent of chil­dren in the 12 to 15-month age group were fully im­mu­nised, 88.31 per cent of the 24 to 27-month age group were fully im­mu­nised, and 92.97 per cent of five-year-olds.

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