The Australian Vaccination Network- which peddles dangerous and misleading anti-vaccination rhetoric to parents and expectant parents – has been forced to change its name to better reflect its true position.
The group, about which the NSW Health Care Complains Commission had previously issued a public warning, finally changed its name to the “Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network” on Friday following an order by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal late last year.
The anti-immunisation group has long been attacked by scientists and doctors for claiming that vaccines cause autism and that vaccination is a “personal choice” – despite the fact that the lives of babies too young to be vaccinated depend on herd immunity across the rest of the community.
The group’s public officer Meryl Dorey has slammed the forced name change as waste of money, according to AAP.
“I don’t think anyone was confused about what our organisation stood for,” Ms Dorey reportedly said this week. “I think it says more about the government to try and get us to close down.”
The group also says it was forced to use the Americanised spelling of “sceptics” after a pro-immunisation “hate group” prevented it from registering its chosen alternative name, “Australian Vaccination Sceptics Network”.
The ordered name change has been welcomed by doctors and health officials. According to AAP:
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said it was important the group’s name be changed so that there would be no doubts about what it represents.
“We really don’t want that misinformation to sway people’s decisions on such important issues,” she said.
Dr Chant said that despite strong support for immunisation in Australia, health agencies needed to avoid complacency in getting the message out about the importance of vaccination.
The ordered name change is the outcome of a long legal dispute over the moniker of the group. NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts first made an order that it change its name back in December 2012.
The AVN appealed to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, who in November 2013 again ordered the name change, saying the group’s original name suggested it was in favour of vaccination. “The name should be changed so that it is not likely to mislead the public in relation to its main object,” the tribunal said at the time.
Mamamia and its readers have been arguing for this change for years now. It’s finally happened and we want to say thanks to each and every one of you who joined the fight to make this reckless group change its misleading name.
Please share this post with friends and family who believe in science and support vaccinations to keep our community safe.