The AVN is reaping what they sowed

Bad Astronomy
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Aug. 7 2009 6:00 AM

The AVN is reaping what they sowed


I'm not shedding too many tears over the tsunami of bad press the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) is receiving right now.

I've written about them before, oh yes. They are the ones headed by Meryl Dorey, the woman who says vaccinations are dangerous, who says no one dies of pertussis, who says that it's better not to vaccinate, who insinuates (at the 11:50 mark of that video) that doctors only vaccinate children because it's profitable for them. She says that, even though on that live TV program she sat a few feet away from Toni and David McCaffery, parents who had just lost their four week old daughter to pertussis because she was too young to be vaccinated yet and the herd immunity in Sydney was too low to suppress the pertussis bacterium. This year alone, three babies in Australia, including young Dana McCaffery, have died from pertussis.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Not enough parents are vaccinating their children. And groups like the AVN spread misinformation about vaccines, spread it like a foul odor on the wind.

As I wrote a few days ago, the AVN will be investigated for their propaganda about vaccines. And now Dick Smith, an Australian businessman and founding skeptic there, has sponsored a devastating ad created by the Australian Skeptics. The ad ran in The Australian, a national newspaper, on Thursday:


Click it to see it full-size.

The ad has picked up some press of its own; it was covered by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website. The AVN claims they are not antivax, but instead are pro choice. Dick Smith disagrees:

They are actually anti-vaccination and they should put on every bit of their material that they are anti-vaccination in great big words.

The evidence is on his side.

There's an article on the ad on ITWire, too. Word is spreading. You can help: blog about this. Tell people about this. Put it on Facebook, on Twitter.

By spreading misinformation about vaccinations the AVN is scaring parents. The herd immunity is low in part because parents are scared to vaccinate their children. The low herd immunity is killing babies. It really is just that simple.

My daughter recently found my cache of old home movies from when she was a baby. We've been laughing, watching her eat and play and be silly when she was just a few months old. Then I think of Toni and David McCaffery and a piece of my heart dies. Then I think of the AVN, and it screams.

Vaccines are one of the greatest triumphs of humanity; the ability to save hundreds of millions of lives through a simple inoculation. But because some people cannot accept reality, innocent human lives will be lost.

I applaud Dick Smith and the Australian skeptics, including my friends Rachael Dunlop and Richard Saunders, for undertaking this heroic effort of shining a bright light on the AVN.

Antivaxxers must be stopped.