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Share: 'I was scammed' says mum whose daughter was put at risk of deadly disease.

In a tribunal on Friday, a mother told a hearing how the “misleading” name of a controversial anti-vaccination lobby group convinced her not to immunise her daughter.

That’s right. We’re talking about the Australian Vaccination Network.

Again.

Because the AVN – who peddle misleading and dangerous, anti-vaccination rhetoric to new parents – are still putting families at risk.

According to News.com.au, the mother told the hearing that she was, quote, “scammed by these (AVN) losers”. She said that after reading the AVN website, she had been scared into not vaccinating her baby daughter.

The mother continued, “It was only due to the insistence of my mother that I looked further into the issue and found that not only did [immunisation] not cause autism, I had been lied to by this organisation … I put my much-loved and much-wanted daughter’s life at risk because I believed this organisation was giving me legitimate medical information.”

AVN president Greg Beattie responded that he didn’t think AVN’s name was misleading “at all”.

In the wake of the hearing, the Australian Vaccination Network has been ordered to run a temporary disclaimer on its website and Facebook page. A consumer warning, alerting parents and other readers to the fact that the information on the website is not sanctioned by the Government, or any official health departments.

The decision is part of an ongoing legal dispute, with the AVN fighting a December ruling that they should have to change their name – or be deregistered. The formal order was issued by NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts, but the organisation has appealed to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

The new disclaimer has been put in place, with the understanding that the anti-vaccination lobby group will not have to change their name until their challenge in a tribunal hearing in June.

The president of the tribunal, Judge O’Connor, requested that the AVN place the following text on both their website and Facebook page, by March 26.

“NSW Fair Trading has directed the AVN to change its name because it regards the name to be misleading. The AVN is challenging this direction and the challenge is currently before the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal.”

AVN president Greg Beattie

In case you’ve only just started following this case on Mamamia, the reason there is so much brouhaha about what the AVN chooses to call itself, is because the group has been attacked by scientists, doctors, and concerned parents for discouraging the vaccination of children.

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The Australian Vaccination Network would have parents believe that vaccines cause autism. That vaccines contain mercury, and other toxic ingredients. That vaccines haven’t been tested, or that even vaccinated kids can get diseases so there’s no point anyway. That vaccines overwhelm a child’s immune system, and actually cause the diseases they are supposed to prevent.

All of these things are untrue.

And with a name like the Australian Vaccination Network, parents who stumble across their web page while doing research about the best health practices for the kids, might just believe them. With dangerous consequences.

At the beginning of this year, Mamamia reported on the case of 7-year-old Alijah Williams, who contracted tetanus – a potentially fatal disease. Alijah was put in intensive care, induced into a coma and put on life support. Fortunately, he survived.

But in the aftermath of their son’s ordeal, Alijah’s parents came forward and took responsibility.

They said:

 “It was me that put my son in this situation,” Mr Williams said.

“Parents like us make the decision to not vaccinate on very little factual information about the actual consequences of the diseases – massive pain, disability and death – and a lot of non-factual, emotive information from the internet stating inflated figures on the frequency and severity of adverse reactions and conspiracy theories about ‘evil’ doctors, governments and drug companies.”

“Believing myths about vaccines is not the same as getting the facts. And that is the core problem.”

Then, in December 2012, we ran Beth Cockroft’s tragic story of seeing her son Malakai die of whooping cough when he was only 6-weeks-old.

Malakai  was too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough himself. But Beth had this to say to parents who actively choose not to vaccinate their children – and who encourage others to do the same.

“To me, honestly, it’s like drink driving. If you choose not to vaccinate you run the same risks as a drink driver. Your choice, your life but you are ALSO risking the lives of the families around you. You can kill other people in the process. Not just yourself. If you don’t vaccinate, you can walk around passing these bugs on and you can kill my child as well. The lack of information and scare mongering is terrible.”

And despite these stories – and many, many more like them — and worrying statistics that the number of unvaccinated kids is up by 500% — the anti-vaxxers still insist that they are fighting the good fight. That they are protecting children; not hurting them.

And so, Mamamia asks you to sign our pledge. We ask you to show that you believe in medical science over the anti-vaxxers’ scare-mongering. We ask you to take a stand, and pledge to vaccinate your own children – and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

Because it’s time the AVN not only take responsibility for their misleading name – but for misleading the public in every press release and statement they make.

Saying that they don’t think they’re being misleading “at all” just isn’t good enough.

Mamamia's Vaccination Pledge

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