Major step against antivaxxers in Australia

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Sept. 25 2009 11:30 AM

Major step against antivaxxers in Australia

I am very pleased to report that, through the Facebook group Stop the AVN, I heard that the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission has determined that the Australian Vaccination Network -- a rabidly antivax group that is spreading misinformation and propaganda about vaccines -- falls under the jurisdiction of the Health Care Complaints Act and a full investigation is warranted.

As you may remember, a complaint was filed against the AVN, claiming they were dispensing medical advice. Meryl Dorey, the mouthpiece for AVN, denied that, saying they are not a medical group. This determination by the HCCC contradicts her... and the HCCC is the actual official agency that can say that.

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I'm glad to see this! Dorey says a lot of things that don't come within a glancing blow of reality (like the AVN is not antivax, when their slogan is "Love them, protect them, never inject them"), so I'm very happy that they will get scrutinized by the HCCC. This could result in anything from an official censure to having the AVN shut down completely. That wouldn't break my heart, though I know that, like a virus, the AVN would mutate slightly and rise again.

I love free speech, but the cost of free speech is never free. With words comes responsibility, and the AVN needs to be held responsible for what they say.

For more info, go to the Facebook page for Stop the AVN.

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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