I’m so very disappointed. It’s what Dr Gorski calls “Manufactroversy” and he’s written about another media example earlier this year on USA’s NPR.
What surprises me is that Sarah Murdoch, one of the co-hosts, is an ambassador for a health group and yet this was allowed to air. I was, however, very impressed with Professor McIntyre’s efforts during the show – but, as shown by ABC’s Media Watch (presenter Jonathan Holmes was recently at a radio conference in Queensland that I was documenting, as my teachers were attending) - having this false balance is just plain bad in itself.
It took a little while for the broadcast (the show is recorded in NSW, where they are battling horrific fires in areas where I used to live – I was in Glenbrook, Blue Mountains for some time and went to school in Katoomba) to reach over here on the West Coast, but you can now see it for yourself.
How about a breakdown of relevant segments?
Firstly the hosts open with why they’re doing this – it’s because measles have skyrocketed over there in NSW. It’s newsworthy. Good, it should be in the news, and people should be getting accurate information, via shows like breakfast ones.
The mention of Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has identified 13,117 Queensland children aged between four and six who have missed scheduled vaccinations, and written to their families to urge them to immunise their children, starts it off – which should give you an idea how seriously this is being taken by health authorities.
Oh, there’s an immunisation debate. “Of course”. Please, fire your researchers.
We’ll be looking at both sides – and with a laugh as they say it at the same time… it’s Meryl Dorey!
Yes, you read that correctly: EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON WHAT’S BEST FOR OUR KIDS.
Group of people concerned about vaccination risks. In the studio is Professor Peter McIntyre.
“Peter – this measles outbreak? How serious? Potential effects?”
He essentially says that it looks serious due to the fact due to the fact that we’ve essentially got rid of “our own measles” and in Qld, NSW and Victoria, it’s coming in from places like Bali. Holidaymakers, with people who are not immune against it, didn’t get vaccinated or have other health problems, will pick it up. That’s why we need to have these vaccination rates as high as possible, to develop herd immunity.
A sensible answer, and straightforward link from cause to problem.
The hosts ask about parents are being asked in Queensland to be immunised – is that good enough? The register regularly reminds parents anyway, and the childcare benefits do rely on vaccination [2:13min].
As for writing campaigns by health minsters – NSW wrote a year or two ago; Queensland only just did it. It’s highlighting a problem and hoping they’ll get on with the vaccinations.
Will it improve vaccination numbers? ask the hosts. He says there’s two groups: those who have problems / challenges due to other issues with difficult lives, and they need to have it as easy as it can be to access free immunisation in Australia. Other people are concerned for other reasons – a lot of the time they’re concerned for the wrong reasons, such as the bad information that unfortunately comes from Meryl’s organisation.
They turn to Meryl at 3:30min. What does she say? She says that she believes that McIntyre has said that they won’t be able to get children into childcare if not vaccinated [he didn't - he said about childcare benefits]. Conscientious objector status does exist for parents.
She says that before measles, in the 100 years before vaccination, the death rate declined by 99.5% without it, then the vaccine came in 1967 and took credit due to other causes that stopped measles. The ask by Queensland health of parents, is due to the deaths of mostly adults…
[it's okay that anyone at all dies?]
… were probably vaccinated and got measles anyway.
She says that every week at least 1000 Australians are dying in hospitals due to infections, medical error and properly prescribed medication – and questions why is this huge cause of death not a concern, when measles is a ‘common and benign disease of childhood’, as it was once reported before the vaccine came along.
Sarah Murdoch: My cousin was born deaf, as his mother got German Measles while pregnant, which had a huge rise in the 60s in this country, and at the Murdoch children’s research institute where I am an ambassador, we’ve been doing some interesting research into the tuberculosis vaccine – which we don’t give to children anymore – the rise in allergies we’re starting to see we’ve seen a link because giving the vaccine kickstarted babies’ immune system. I mean, allergies are on the rise in this country, 1 in 10 children; there are benefits outside of the traditional disease that they’re vaccinating against.
Professor McIntyre – Meryl’s and the AVN’s concerns are unfounded, describing their site as basically:
“A superhighway to garbage information”
what Meryl has said about measles is partially correct due to complications, but there’s a hard core such as encephalitis and SSPE, which is a delayed encephalitis where they get a brain rot. Both of these cause people to die – no matter how great your diet and lifestyle is, measles can cause severe disability or death and vaccine stops all deaths and it in Australia. It’s unfortunate it can be picked up overseas.
WHy not be safe rather than sorry? She says that it represents thousands of families who have lost or injured due to vaccine, and that they’re asking good scientific questions and the government isn’t helping with information.
[8:00min] – But haven’t the questions been answered with good scientific way?
She says that she contacted Professor McIntyre a few years ago for a study comparing the fully vaccinated with the fully unvaccinated’s overall health – and due to the register that could be done. But instead the government doing that, they’re not. She wants to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation to ask that they work with them and see if it’s true that fully vaccinated are healthier. But until that information is out, parents will err on side of caution.
In fact, this study is still in the planning stage and more complicated than it suggests. But he has no doubt as to outcomes, due to vaccinations via the HIB meningitis vaccine - there used to be 500-700 kids a year who would get it, and yet there were long term handicaps. Now there’s less than 10 and it’s not just due to “a better lifestyle”. The same for Meningococcal diseases.
Sarah says whooping cough is one that she’s hoping for progress with, that happened to her daughter, although it’s not the best example as it’s currently not given to younger kids – but in response he says the good thing is that it protects you against the very bad form of whooping cough. Can it soon be given to the mother in pregnancy or after birth, is something they’re looking into.
Is Meryl happy that the proposed study is in plan? Why yes, and she wants to work with them. End of interview.
“Although I believe in vaccination, you still have those doubts when the needle goes in the arm,” finishes Sarah Murdoch. It’s a shame that “It’s one of those debates that doesn’t seem to go away” is due to these kinds of programs producing false balance.