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VACCINES IN PERIL

By canberra_skeptics - 27 January 2011 11

A Canberra Skeptics Lecture

Speaker: Ken McLeod
Date: Friday, 11th of March 2011
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Place: Lecture theatre, Innovations Building, Eggleston Rd, ANU

Recent newspaper articles were most disturbing: “Polio emergency in the Congo.”  Once again Polio breaks out just when it appeared we had won that war.  In the Democratic Republic of Congo we can blame this outbreak on lower vaccination rates due to civil war and the breakdown of government infrastructure.  However in Australia we are facing outbreaks of diseases we thought were beaten, not because of civil war, but due to a large and vocal anti-vaccination lobby.

It sounds weird to us more mature citizens who remember the last of the polio epidemics of the ’50s, but yes, there are people in Australia dedicated to persuading parents not to vaccinate themselves or their children.  They give the most bizarre reasons, ranging from “vaccines don’t work” to “vaccines cause autism” and “natural immunity is preferable” and so on, with the occasional mention of international conspiracies.  Many people, including parents, have been persuaded by the so-called “Australian Vaccination Network” (a group of rabid anti-vaxxers based near Byron Bay), to forgo vaccination, with tragic consequences.  

A campaign to counter the anti-vax groups has been going since May 2009, when baby Dana McCaffery died of Pertussis, (whooping cough), a disease which the “Australian Vaccination Network” (AVN) claims is never fatal.   A large group of health professionals, members of the Australian Skeptics, and laymen have formed an alliance to counter this propaganda.  The campaign’s first major success was the public warning issued by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission concerning the AVN.

One of Canberra’s Skeptics, Ken McLeod, is a leader of the campaign to counter the anti-vaxxers.  He was awarded the Australian Skeptics’ “2010 Thornett Award For The Promotion of Reason.”   He also shared in the Australian Skeptics’ “2010 Skeptic of the Year Award” which was awarded to the group “Stop the Australian Vaccination Network” for his role in the campaign against the AVN.

World-wide campaigns to provide vaccinations are at risk.  Ken will describe Australia’s anti-vaccination lobby, and what is being done about it.  He will also brief you on similar campaigns overseas.

Ken McLeod is a Retired navigator, air traffic controller, the Search And Rescue (SAR) national manager, an Australian aviation representative on 2 United Nations committees and a Senate researcher.  He is now an investor, boutique farmer and stirrer.  He is also Past President Moruya Rotary Club, (Paul Harris Fellow). Ken came to Skepticism after being bothered by “psychics” and crackpot inventors for 20 years in SAR.  He submitted complaints to the Health Care Complaints Commission and the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing targeting the Australian (anti-) Vaccination Network.

No need to book but note that theatre hold 106. 

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue tbc).  To RSVP for the dinner please contact mail@skeptics.org.au

For further information about Canberra Skeptics please visit our website

http://www.canberraskeptics.org.au/default.html

What’s Your opinion?


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11 Responses to
VACCINES IN PERIL
ConanOfCooma 10:17 am 31 Jan 11

Pfah, skeptics. Professional Nay-Sayers.

Both groups are extremists, just from other ends of the spectrum.

Erg0 3:28 pm 28 Jan 11

Inappropriate said :

I’m well versed in the cogent arguments for vaccines, but no amount of facts and evidence will sway a nincompoop who vehemently believes that the MMR vaccine gave her child Autism.

I was thinking more of proactively correcting the gullible nincompoops than of arguing pointlessly with the deluded ones, but I take your point.

Inappropriate 2:38 pm 28 Jan 11

Erg0 said :

Inappropriate said :

Don’t such events tend to preach to the choir?

I think the idea may be that people get to hear a cogent pro-vaccination argument, which they can then use when confronted with nincompoops out in the world.

I’m well versed in the cogent arguments for vaccines, but no amount of facts and evidence will sway a nincompoop who vehemently believes that the MMR vaccine gave her child Autism.

D2 2:31 pm 28 Jan 11

These anti-vaccination liars should be treated the same as murderers.

Lin 1:39 pm 28 Jan 11

I only started thinking about this when I became a parent. And the prospect of having to trawl through terrabytes of pro and con arguments – and checking sources for so-called research – was very daunting. In the end I just used my common sense – plus a general knowledge of history and current 3rd world conditions – and got her vaccinated.

So this would be good to pass on to new or prospective parents especially. As well as those who want to steal the well-articulated arguments of people clevererer than themselves (talking about myself here).

Erg0 12:26 pm 28 Jan 11

Inappropriate said :

Don’t such events tend to preach to the choir?

I think the idea may be that people get to hear a cogent pro-vaccination argument, which they can then use when confronted with nincompoops out in the world.

For those who don’t feel like going, but wouldn’t mind being informed on the subject, I second CaGN’s recommended link above.

emd 11:19 am 28 Jan 11

I’m personally pro-vax, but that doesn’t mean I think vaccinations will solve all the problems. A study of an outbreak of whooping cough in an isolated northern WA town in 1999 showed that 96% of the town’s children were vaccinated, and 100% of the children who caught the virus were vaccinated (including the one baby who had it during this outbreak). They put the outbreak down to a combination of the cyclical nature of outbreaks, and the fact that contagious children went on a school camp with uninfected children, rapidly spreading the disease. While vaccination can reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks, it doesn’t always stop people catching the disease.

If you know someone who has a nasty and persistent cough (which is how whooping cough appears in normal, healthy adults and older children), it is wise to keep them away from the general community to avoid spreading the disease in case it is pertussis. Use your sick leave (or carers leave, if your kids are too sick for school) and stop being a martyr, and maybe everyone else sharing your office air con or catching the same bus will have less chance of bringing the germs home to their high-risk infant or elderly or immune-suppressed relatives. Even if the nasty cough is not pertussis, there are people in the general community for whom a nasty cough can quickly become a life-threatening case of pneumonia.

CraigT 7:35 pm 27 Jan 11

Whether they are wanting to pooh-pooh climate scientists, build mosques and Jewish baths, or preach anti-vaccination crankery, the world is full of irrational, stupid people. Very, very full of them.

I recommend the Skeptics meetings – you get to hear some intelligent and well-spoken intellectuals deliver some stimulating insights. The complete opposite from what you get when you switch on the idiot-box.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 7:11 pm 27 Jan 11

absolutely disgusting and its a form of child abuse. You are not only putting your own childrenat risk but also the children who can genuinly not get vaccinated becuase of medical conditions and not to mention in the long term the entire community.

get informed! http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4180

Rangi 4:53 pm 27 Jan 11

I recently had a debate with an anti-vax supporter, heard all the above mentioned reason against.

If you want to see what some real nutbags have to say check out Dr Tenpenny on facebook…wow!

Inappropriate 12:02 pm 27 Jan 11

Don’t such events tend to preach to the choir?

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