You know how everyone complains about how hard it is to get the ear of Government, to fight through all the red tape and bureaucracy, so you can actually talk to someone who can get something DONE?
Because when thousands of us bring our voices together on a single issue? Well, those in power listen.
Last week brought the shocking news that the number of parents choosing NOT to vaccinate their children and registering as conscientious objectors is up 500%. Yes: 500 percent.
Which is why we asked Mamamia readers to sign the pledge to stand up to the totally unscientific and aggressive misinformation campaigns peddled by anti vaccination advocates such as the AVN.
Last week Mamamia Publisher Mia Freedman wrote:
Let’s be very clear. Those who refuse to immunise their children are not just risking their own children’s health but the lives of others in the community. Vaccinations are not perfect – occasionally, those who have been immunised can still contract the disease – but they are the best we’ve got to protect us against incurable diseases.
We all rely on the immunity of others to protect us, particularly those who are too young to be immunised and anyone with an illness that suppresses their immune system (such as cancer). They are our most vulnerable and high levels of immunisation in the community (above 95%) are crucial for their welfare.
So what’s behind the sudden increase? Anti-vaccination lobby groups.
Organisations that use bogus statistics and the word of unqualified ‘experts’ to scare new parents about unproven ‘dangers’ of vaccination. The power of these groups is only enhanced by the fact they have charitable status – which allows them tax breaks in their fundraising – and their misleading name ‘The Vaccination Network’ (formerly Australian Vaccination Network), that suggests they are some kind of official medical organisation.
They’re not. And too many new parents – desperate to do the right thing by their newborns – are falling prey to the myths and the hocus pocus of the anti-vaxxers.
Last week, we asked you to sign a pledge that stated you believed in the benefits of medical research and science over the scare-mongering of the anti-vaccination lobby. We asked you to take a stand against those who pedal in lies and fear and pledge to vaccinate your own children and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
And you responded. In less than one week, almost 5000 of you have signed the pledge and that has meant the Government absolutely HAD to sit up and pay attention to you.
Representatives from Mamamia’s Editorial Team met with Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and her advisers on Tuesday this week. We discussed the merits of vaccination and the rise in the number of parents who aren’t vaccinating their kids.
Tanya was absolutely lovely, listening earnestly to all of our concerns and agreeing that more needed to be done to spread the message of the benefits of vaccination (she also signed the pledge!). We talked about a range of measures the Government can be looking into to make a difference and were pleased to see that the Minister was nodding along with everything we said.
We discussed the charitable status of the anti-vaccination lobby groups, the fact that parents who don’t vaccinate their kids can still access Government payments so long as they register as ‘conscientious objectors’ and the need for more official information to be reaching parents as soon as their children are born.
There is more work to do and we’re going to stay in close touch with the Minister’s office while Tanya explores some of the ideas and suggestions we’ve put to her. We’re terribly excited and quite humbled, to be able to take the concerns of Mamamia readers directly to the Federal Government and hopefully we can bring about some real change on this issue.
Stay tuned folks.
We’re just getting started.
You can still sign the Mamamia Vaccination Pledge below and share this post with your networks by clicking on the Twitter and Facebook links below or the SHARE button at the top of the page.