Anti-Vaccination network faces deregistration for misleading public

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The AVN has been blamed for a growing number of parents refusing to vaccinate their childrenTHE future of the Australian Vaccination Network is in doubt, following the government rejection of five suggested new names for the group because they don’t reflect its anti-vaccination stance.

The AVN has until March 21 to change its name or it faces deregistration, after NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts issued a formal order that its name misleads the public.

The organisation does not present a balanced case for vaccination and has no medical evidence to back its anti-vaccination stance, he says.

The controversial group has been attacked by doctors and scientists for discouraging parents from vaccinating their children and NSW Fair Trading has received complaints about its name.

The organisation will this week attempt to thwart the minister’s order through an appeal in the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

AVN president Greg Beattie told News Limited it was vital the words Australia and Vaccination remained in the group’s name because they defined what the organisation was about.

The organisation does not present a balanced case for vaccination and has no medical evidence to back its anti-vaccination stance, he says.

He said the group had sent a letter to the Fair Trading Department to ask whether they would accept one of five suggested name changes.

These include Australian Vaccination Information Network and Australian Vaccination Choice.

“We can’t just change our name under the Association’s Incorporation Act, we must go through a process of consulting with our members and we need a 75 per cent majority vote,” Mr Beattie said.

“We’ve had the name for 19 years, so we want as small a change as possible.”

Mr Roberts said he was demanding the name change “because we will not tolerate parents being misled by its name and children’s health being put at risk”.

“Here’s my tip for the AVN, suggest a name which reflects your anti-vaccination stance.”

Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton said parents visiting the AVN’s website may think they were getting a balanced view of immunisation, rather than just the case against.

“The name changes they are proposing still suggest they are providing both sides of the argument when indeed they don’t,” he said.

The lobby group has been blamed for a growing number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children, a move that reduces the herd immunity from vaccination and potentially exposes babies and children to deadly diseases like whooping cough and measles.

Late last year, the Academy of Science published a guide for parents on the importance of vaccination to fight the group’s influence.

The number of Australian babies not fully immunised is now one in 12 and the number of parents registering a conscientious objection to immunisation has leapt from 4271 in 1999 to more than 30,000.

Professor Ian Frazer, who developed the cervical cancer vaccine, has warned immunisation levels for some diseases were falling below those required to prevent deadly outbreaks.

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Categories: Immunisation, Medical, Vaccination
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