Diluted Thinking

in Australian healthcare

AVSN: 3AW interview Meryl Dorey


The Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network is the subject of a current health warning issued by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. The warning, in part, states:

"The Commission considers that AVN's dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers."

"Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges general caution is exercised when using AVN's website or Facebook page to research vaccination and to consult other reliable sources, including speaking to a medical practitioner, to make an informed decision."

For accurate information about vaccination, please visit the Immunise Australia Program website and I highly recommend reading Immunisation Myths and Realities: responding to arguments against immunisation.

Interview transcript.

Host: Neil Mitchell, Radio 3AW
Guest: Meryl Dorey, Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network
Date: 26 November 2012

[the audio file transcribed commences during Neil's introduction]

Neil: What they're trying to do is debunk the claims by the anti-immunisation lobby over the dangers of vaccinating kids. The report though today says, in the Herald Sun, says there's been a six-fold increase in the number of people not vaccinating children and the scientists say that could cost lives. I wanted to get two views on it. I mean, my view is pretty well known, I think vaccination is worth the risks, but I'm not expert. On the line, the president of the Australian Vaccination Network, Meryl Dorey. Good morning.

Meryl: Good morning, Neil. How are you?

Neil: So you're actually Anti-vaccination Network, are you?

Meryl: No, no we're not, Neil. We're the Australian Vaccination Network and we believe that everyone has the right to make an informed decision about vaccination and that includes having access to both sides of this issue.

Neil: Ok

Meryl: ...because like all scientific issues there are two sides; there are benefits and there are risks.

Neil: So you...

Meryl: And people need to be aware of both sides.

Neil: So you present the risks, correct?

Meryl: We present information to balance the information that parents may get from their doctor or from the government. And the government and the medical community actively suppress information on the risks and ineffectiveness of vaccines. So yes, we fill that gap.

Neil: Why?

Meryl: Why do they do it?

Neil: Yeah.

Meryl: You'd have to ask them why they do that, but they've been doing it for many years, and even when information comes out... for instance, in the article that you're referring to that was out in today's paper, it says that we have a huge increase in the incidence of whooping cough in Australia and that's because we have fewer people vaccinating, and nothing could be further from the truth. We actually have the highest level of vaccination in Australia that we've ever had against whooping cough and the highest level of whooping cough that we've ever had. We have more whooping cough now than we have since before the vaccine was added to the mass vaccination schedule in 1953. And the reason for that, according to studies that are coming out around the world, is that the vaccine is no longer effective against whooping cough...

Neil: Ok.

Meryl: ...because the disease has mutated, and it may actually make people more susceptible to contracting whooping cough. And this information is out there, it's from the medical community and yet the media doesn't cover it.

Neil: Ok. Now come on, you're not into this sort of conspiracy stuff, are you?

Meryl: It's not a conspiracy, I'm just telling the truth.

Neil: Well, the media doesn't cover it, you're saying then the media's part of the conspiracy? We've got eminent scientists - Professor Frazer, Gus Nossal - eminent scientists and the media part of a conspiracy to cover it up?

Meryl: You're talking about an appeal to authority by naming those names. I'm talking about the actual data that's available.

Neil: No, I'm talking about your suggestion there's some sort of conspiracy here. I mean...

Meryl: No, I didn't use that word, Neil, you did.

Neil: Well you...

Meryl: And may I say...

Neil: Well, alright, you implied it by saying the media won't report it. Ok.

Meryl: Well, the media doesn't report it. Have you seen...

Neil: Well, what the hell are we doing now?

Meryl: Ok, that's great. I think it's fantastic that you're showing both sides but that is a rare event in the media and I'm really grateful to you for doing it. And I really think that it's important that people have open access to this information without the pressure, without the name-calling and actually with access to the science; that's all the AVN asks.

Neil: Ok. Well in very simple terms, what is your objection to vaccination for the major illnesses?

Meryl: I don't object to vaccination. I object to people being told that they have to vaccinate when that's not true.

Neil: So, you don't object to vaccination, you're not recommending it.

Meryl: No, not at all.

Neil: Oh, ok.

Meryl: It's everyone's choice. If someone wants to vaccinate, that's great. If they have made an informed decision - either to vaccinate or not to vaccinate - that is their choice. We absolutely oppose any form of compulsory vaccination. Nobody should have to tell, the right to tell us, that we must vaccinate.

Neil: So do you recommend though... not compulsory, but do you recommend vaccinating children against measles?

Meryl: We recommend that when a parent is trying to make that choice either for their children or themselves, that they speak with their GP, that they speak with natural health practitioners or any other practitioner that they trust, that they get information and do their own research and then, and only then, make their decision based on this information.

Neil: So, you are not willing to make a recommendation either way.

Meryl: I'm not a health professional. How can I make a recommendation?

Neil: Well, you're telling us your expert in the area.

Meryl: I never said that, you said that. I have studied this issue for over twenty years.

Neil: You've just quoted me all this stuff about whooping cough and now you tell me your not expert.

Meryl: What's the definition of an expert, Neil?

Neil: Are you president of the Australian Vaccination Network...

Meryl: I am the president of a consumer organisation that believes that everyone has the right to make an informed choice about all health issues. If you think that makes me an expert, well, that's your opinion.

Neil: No, I would suggest that you are being a bit disingenuous here, that you are in fact a lobbyist against vaccination.

Meryl: Well, I think that you're trying to put words in my mouth that don't belong there. And speaking of words in the mouth, I understand that on the television this morning you said that parents who don't vaccinate their children are child abusers. I want you to know that hundreds and potentially thousands of people listening to this program are the parents of children who have either been seriously injured or killed by vaccines, and you need to keep that in mind.

Neil: Oh I see, but these are the vaccines that you're not opposed to and now you're telling me they kill people. What I said was...

Meryl: I'm saying, that like all medical procedures, vaccines have risks.

Neil: What I said was, "in my view", and I stress that "in my view", and it's a non-expert view, parents who don't vaccinate their children, that is tantamount to child abuse because I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Meryl: And that is your belief and you're entitled to your belief,...

Neil: Thank you

Meryl: ...but as a member of the media you have to be aware that your belief can be incredibly hurtful to the thousands of parents listening to the show who have children who've been killed or injured by vaccines. And what I believe is that you need to be able to make that choice for yourself.

Neil: How many children have been killed or injured by vaccine in the past...[phone line cuts out]
Did she hang up on me? No, surely not, I wouldn't think so. We'll try and get her back, but in the meantime I want to speak quickly to the president of the Australian Medical Assocation, Dr Steve Hambleton.

[interview with Dr Hambleton not transcribed]

Neil: Meryl Dorey is back on the line from the Australian Vaccination Network, the line dropped out. Meryl Dorey, apologies, I don't know what happened there.

Meryl: That's fine, Neil, it happens, that's ok.

Neil: I was about to ask you whether you can tell us the figure, the number of people, the number of children who have died as a result of vaccination; adverse effects as they say, in the past five years.

Meryl: Well you see, we don't really have access to that information. ADRAC, the Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee, is one of the bodies that collects those details. And ADRAC has admitted openly that only between 1 and 10 per cent of serious reactions are ever reported. And the AVN maintains an adverse reactions database with over 1200 serious reactions and deaths. We have 25 deaths on our database, and not one of these was...

Neil: Over what period of time?

Meryl: This is since 1998, so it's quite a long period of time. But also most people don't know that we have that database so it's only people who find us. But not one of these reactions was ever reported by the doctor involved. And we've been involved with helping parents get doctors to report reactions.

Neil: How many people have died from influenza since 1998?

Meryl: Very few.

Neil: Ooooh...

Meryl: Very, very few indeed.

Neil: oooh ooooh....No, I don't agree with that. We have large numbers each year.

Meryl: But what happens, Neil, is that when the government reports that someone died from influenza, they are actually saying influenza-like illness, ILI, and that could be anything. When they actually test these people to find the presence of an influenza virus, they find that only about 1 to 5 percent of the people who are diagnosed with influenza, actually have influenza. Most of the people....

Neil: Are you sure....?

Meryl: I'm positive. Most of the people...

Neil: No, no, [garbled] ...the question. Are you sure you're not alleging a conspiracy here?

Meryl: No, not at all.

Neil: Hmmm.

Meryl: If you look at the Centre for Disease Control in the United States, they've been claiming that 36,000 people die in the U.S. every year from influenza, and yet when they've actually done studies to find out how many of those 36,000 are caused by flu, it ranges from between 250 and a maximum of 1700.

Neil: Ok. Final question. It's been claimed that you've said diabetics shouldn't have insulin shots. Is that right?

Meryl: That's not true. That is not true at all.

Neil: What's your view on insulin?

Meryl: There is.... there is... well, I don't really know, I'm not an expert on diabetes. But I do know, that in the medical literature, diabetes is linked strongly with administration of vaccines. And New Zealand saw a sixty percent increase in the rate of childhood diabetes when they introduced the HepB vaccine at birth.

Neil: Ok.

Meryl: But I don't say anything about treating diabetes; I am not a doctor. As I said, I'm not a medical practitioner. But there are people on our Facebook page who say things, that I may not have said things like that, but there are people over there who have, and I have not said that.

Neil: Meryl Dorey, president of the Australian Vaccination Network...[end of audio]

Source: Huge increases in parents who refuse to vaccinate their children