Two weeks ago, a newborn baby died from whooping cough in Perth. His name was Riley. You can read about his tragically short life here.
This morning, in the “Kochie’s Angels” segment on Sunrise where three women discuss and debate the stories of the day with co-host David Koch, two of the three ‘Angels’ appeared to be defending the position of vaccine deniers who refuse to vaccinate their children.
While both Elka Whalan, a former Olympic swimmer and TV host Sally Obermeder said they did vaccinate their own children, they made some disturbing claims, particularly Whalan who argued that “people need to do research on both sides of the story.”
When challenged strongly on this by Mamamia’s Shelly Horton and Kochie, Whalan repeated her claim that while “I vaccine my children, people should look at both sides of the story.” Sally Obermeder chimed in, pointing out that whether you vaccinate your children or not, everyone just wants what’s best for their children. And that everyone is just acting out of love.
The problem with her message, of course, is that in fact there aren’t two sides of this story. And the fact that it’s not just about your children. It’s about babies like Riley and Dana McCaffrey who died before they were old enough to be immunised because other people “did their research” and chose not to vaccinate their children, causing outbreaks of these preventable but incurable diseases in the communities where Riley and Dana lived.
Back on Sunrise, things quickly became heated. “There is no argument,” Kochie pointed out. “Everyone thinks they’re an expert using Google, but when you talk to the experts, there is no argument.”
He added that as a grandfather, he’d already opted to have a whooping cough vaccine.
As Shelly Horton interjected: “No doctor doesn’t vaccinate their child. It’s one of those things where we need to stop saying ‘that’s what a naturopath said, or what someone’s friend said on Facebook’.”
“We actually need to listen to the experts,” she added.
Watch the segment here. Post continues after video:
Mamamia Women’s Network’s Mia Freedman hit out at the idea of “doing research” and there being “two sides” to vaccination, challenging Whalan’s claims on Twitter:
Let’s just recap: no link between vaccination and autism has ever been found — ever. And what has been conclusively proven is that while they are not 100% perfect, vaccines are the best and only way to protect babies and children from diseases like whooping cough that can kill them.
Those diseases can kill babies — as the family of tiny Perth baby Riley learned when their little boy tragically died this month from whooping cough. At only 32 days old, baby Riley was too young to get his vaccine against the deadly disease; at his age, babies depend on older kids and adults around them being vaccinated.
It is dangerous for the media to treat this issue as a two-sided debate, and to allow non-experts to comment.
Because while Elka Whalan may be an expert at swimming, no-one should be taking advice from her about the health of their children.
Need more info? Try these:
Save the Date to Vaccinate is an initiative from NSW Health to remind parents of the importance of on-time vaccinations for children. Visit www.immunisation.health.nsw.