Australia’s scientific community has condemned an anti-vaccination event advertised by the City of Sydney, which was featured on the website’s ‘what’s on’ section, despite not conforming to the website’s promotional guidelines.
The ad, which promoted well-known anti-vaxxer, Dr Judy Wilyman as Australia’s “top vaccine expert” speaking at an undisclosed location, appeared on the council’s website for a number of hours before being taken down at the request of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore and City of Sydney councillors.
“This is entirely contrary to our values. We support evidence-based policies in the interests of our city’s communities,” Moore told the ABC.
Speaking to Mamamia, general practitioner and vaccination supporter, Dr Brad McKay said the scientific community were “appalled” the ad has been featured on the council’s website, and were “unsure of how it got through their vetting system”.
“[When we saw the event ad on Sunday], we started to contact a few people and were told in the morning that nobody would be able to do anything because the social media team would be in on Monday, so we appealled to Clover Moore and to the councillors as well and then they were able to get people on board and take down the advertisement,” he said.
“It was completely against everything we know the City of Sydney to stand for.”
The event page, which called for an “open, honest and respectful discussion about vaccines” and how “the government, media and the medical community are pushing more and more vaccines on us”, is a common occurrence for the anti-vaccination community.Dr McKay explained these communities start up such events to bad mouth vaccinations and scare and confuse parents through misinformation.
“It’s an ongoing battle for the scientific community to stop them spreading bad information and bad science. I find it terrible for parents to be preyed on, [these kind of events] preach fear to a lot of parents.
“It’s a disaster for the community if we don’t have enough kids being vaccinated. The scientific community is completely against the anti-vaccination propaganda that’s put out.”
Dr McKay also explained that the scientific community is lobbying to have Dr Wilyman's PhD in vaccinations awarded to her by the University of Woolongong retracted, as it was completed through an arts academic pathway, rather than a scientific one.
"[The scientific community] has been watching her for a while, and for whenever she's holding a meeting because we're not wanting parents to be preyed on and told information that's inaccurate."
For any parents who may have seen or been confused by the event's advertisement on the City of Sydney website, the message is clear - you've got to be really careful about anti-vaccination propaganda.
"This [event] is often what anti-vaccination groups will do. They'll set up a secret location and will tell you - 'give us the money, we'll put you on the list and we'll send you an email three hours before the meeting goes ahead' - it creates the sense of a secret community and prevents other people from going to protest or make a statement," Dr McKay said.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there, there's a lot of scaremongering, and there's a lot of people who have an agenda to push but not the evidence to back it up. We know vaccines are safe and effective, and they can prevent disease for you and your kids, it's important to follow what your doctors are guiding and make sure you info is evidence based."
LISTEN: Mia Freedman spoke with prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull about his views on why vaccinations are a necessity to keep Australian children safe...