Diluted Thinking

in Australian healthcare

Anti-Vaccination: It's Everywhere

This simple guide is to help people identify where they are likely to come across disinformation about vaccination. Traditionally, anti-vaccination groups were the main culprits in spreading intentionally false and misleading vaccination information. Unfortunately, we now see an increasingly large number of natural health proponents also taking part.

What all these groups share in common is that they make false claims about science and medicine - often subscribing to conspiracy theories - to promote and support their pseudoscientific points of view. This anti-science and anti-medicine rhetoric is the easiest way to identify a health source as unreliable and untrustworthy.

Though the internet is awash with inaccurate and misleading information on vaccination, many interest groups also host talks and seminars, hold regular meetings, and give presentations at conventions and festivals. They produce DVD's, write books and publish newsletters. The propaganda can be found everywhere; therefore it is imperative that we all learn to recognise it.

I also hope this list is useful for potential hosts and advertisers of anti-vaccination events. It was disappointing to find anti-vaccination talks being advertised in some high school newsletters because, I assume, these events were headlined as "healthy lifestyle" talks.

Anti-vaccination groups

If you see an interest group with "vaccination" in the title, or you are not sure from a quick glance what their position is, assume that it is anti-vaccination.

Other names that anti-vaccination groups in Australia use are:

Australian Vaccination Network
Healthy Families Naturally (HFN)
Vaccination Information Serving Australia
Vaccination Information South Australia
Future Families
Family Health Support Group
A Health Seminar
Vaccination Answers Informed Sources
Vaccination Awareness & Information Service
Healthy Lifestyles Naturally (HLN)
Nature Matters
Stephanie Messenger
Others
Patricia Bohackyj: Healthy Families of Illawarra; Vaccination Information Network; contact for VISA
Bev Pattenden: Great Southland Vaccination Network
Judy Wilyman: University of Wollongong; vaccinationdecisions.com

Natural, Healthy Lifestyles gimmick

A red flag should go up at any group that is based on or heavily promotes 'healthy lifestyles' or 'natural health'. If you see any anti-science or anti-medicine views then their information will be unreliable and untrustworthy, and most of these groups will hold anti-vaccination views. Look for the term "big pharma" - a guarantee that someone has an issue with medicine and science. Some prominent healthy lifestyle proponents in Australia who are anti-vaccination include:

Neways
Neways promote their 'Healthy Homes' campaign by claiming that everything non-Neways in your home is potentially dangerous and carcinogenic. Yes, everything will give you cancer except Neways products. I have found a number of their Diamond level and above distributors promoting anti-vaccination views and many Neways distributors mention vaccination as just another toxin to be avoided in a healthy lifestyle.
Peter Dingle
Presenter of the SBS show Is Your House Killing You and spokesperson for Neways' Healthy Homes campaign. Recently, Peter Dingle has been very outspoken against vaccination, quoting all the usual debunked arguments.
Dr Greg Emerson
Lectures on health and wellness, and makes media appearances. He is anti-vaccination and promotes vaccination nonsense, such as the thoroughly debunked mercury-autism link.
Cyndi O'Meara
Author of Changing Habits and a frequent guest on radio and television.
Helen Lobato
Independent health researcher and radio broadcaster with community radio 3cr.
It is worth noting that many natural health proponents also subscribe to many quack cancer cures, such as Gerson Therapy, Black Salve, etc.

Chiropractic

The field of chiropractic is very broad; some chiropractors stick to basic manipulation whilst the other extreme subscribe to a host of pseudoscientific principles.

Of those chiropractors who practice at the extreme end of the spectrum, it is safe to assume they are anti-vaccination. In fact, they make up the biggest number (by far) of the Australian Vaccination Network Inc. professional supporters, and some of these chiropractors are quite active in spreading anti-vaccination disinformation.

An easy way to identify 'extreme' chiropractors is to look for the following terms:

ACNEM

The Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM) is an independent post-graduate medical college. Many of its members are against vaccination and also promote highly questionable treatments such as chelation for (non-evidence based) diagnoses of heavy metal 'poisoning'.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy stands out against all other alternative medicine modalities because it is the only one that supports and promotes an alternative to vaccination - homeoprophylaxis.

The simple rule here is to assume all homeopaths are against vaccination unless advised otherwise. Please note that all registration bodies for homeopaths in Australia support the practice of homeoprophylaxis.

Midwifery / Mother & Baby Groups

These areas are a minefield and the most dangerous to those who are unaware and ill-prepared to tackle pseudoscientific beliefs and principles.
Midwives & Doulas
There are many excellent midwives and doulas practising today. Unfortunately, there are some who hold outrageous beliefs. Once again, this is another area where it's hard to pinpoint the anti-vaccination ones. General rule applies: if they are anti-science or anti-medicine, safe to assume they are anti-vaccination.

The "Australian Doula College" is antivaccination and has held talks on vaccination by prominent antivax promoters including Kathy Scarborough of VISA and chiropractor Nimrod Weiner.

Mother & Baby Groups
The more the focus is on 'natural' the higher the likelihood you will find nonsense surrounding the subject of vaccination. Expect to find someone from any group that supports and/or promotes anti-vaccination views.
One of the largest Australian internet forums on pregnancy and birth (and also very anti-vaccination), is BellyBelly run by Melbourne midwife, Kelly Winder.

Naturopathy

This is another field that covers a broad spectrum of practices. You will find some naturopaths support science-based medicine, and others very negative of it. Within this spectrum, however, it is hard to identify who is, or isn't, anti-vaccination. As a general rule I think the more anti-science a practitioner is, the more likely they may be anti-vaccination. There are a number of naturopaths whose methods and diagnostics are totally pseudoscientific and they should be avoided as a matter of course. Look out for these terms: