Health groups say they are “utterly appalled” by senator Pauline Hanson’s comments critical of Australia’s vaccination program, and are demanding Ms Hanson retract them.
The One Nation leader described the Government’s ‘no jab, no pay’ policy as a “dictatorship” and said parents should do their own research into vaccinations.
Senator Hanson, who says she vaccinated her own children, .
But the head of Australian Medical Association, Dr Michael Gannon, said it was time Senator Hanson started behaving responsibly.
“I’m utterly appalled by Senator Hanson’s comments. She needs to realise that she’s a serious player in Australian politics now,” Dr Gannon said.
“[With] 10 per cent of Australians indicating an intention to vote for One Nation, she can no longer make fringe statements that are dangerous to the health of the whole community.
“We know in medical science that we’re never going to reach that 1 or 2 per cent of rusted on flat-earthers who don’t accept the science of vaccination.”
Dr Gannon said Senator Hanson’s comments could have a damaging effect for less-informed Australian parents.
“What we worry a lot about is that about 8 per cent of the population are so-called vaccine hesitant, and they’re looking for any information that might lead them away from what is … probably the most important public health measure we’ve got,” he said.
“This [is a] fatuous idea that parents can spend half an hour on Wikipedia and come to a greater understanding of the issues than their doctor and the accumulated wisdom of all the world’s medical scientists is ludicrous.”
Political leaders reject vaccination comments
Senator Hanson’s comments provoked swift condemnation, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten both rejecting them.
Health Minister Greg Hunt also tweeted that vaccinations save lives.
But despite that, Senator Hanson, who’s now campaigning in WA for this week’s state election, has defended her remarks.
“I’m not telling people not to vaccinate their children, I’m telling people investigate it,” she said.
“Just find out your information and just make sure you have the right information.
“Apparently there is a test you can get done to see if the child is allergic to the vaccination or not.”
Senator Hanson has refused to distance herself from previous remarks linking vaccines to autism, a discredited fringe conspiracy that is not supported by science.
The head of Autism Awareness Australia, Nicole Rogerson, is demanding Senator Hanson retract her comments.
“It shows just an absolute lack of knowledge to do with anything to do with childhood vaccination and autism, and I think she shouldn’t comment on what she clearly doesn’t understand,” Ms Rogerson said.
“There is no link between vaccinations and autism, and any suggestion has long been discredited, but it still persists out there.
“Very vulnerable parents hear stories like that and are reluctant to vaccinate their children.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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