AVSN: 98.9 FM interview Meryl Dorey
WARNINGThe Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network is the subject of a current health warning issued by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. The warning, in part, states:
"The Commission considers that AVN's dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers."
"Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges general caution is exercised when using AVN's website or Facebook page to research vaccination and to consult other reliable sources, including speaking to a medical practitioner, to make an informed decision."
For accurate information about vaccination, please visit the Immunise Australia Program website and I highly recommend reading Immunisation Myths and Realities: responding to arguments against immunisation.
Host: Tiga Bayles, Let's Talk program
Guest: Meryl Dorey, Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network
Date: 19 December 2011
[general intro to program not transcribed]
Tiga: And today I have a very interesting guest and interesting topic. We're talking about freedom of speech, the right to make free and informed decisions or give free and informed consent. We're not talking about just blackfellas today or first nations people, we're talking about all Australian parents. And the topic and subject is vaccinations. You should be in a position where you can make, or you can give free and informed consent to that issue, to that topic of do you or don't you, get your child vaccinated. So I'm talking to Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network. Meryl, welcome to Let's Talk, it's great to have you join us today, how are you?
Meryl: Good Morning Tiga, I'm great, thank you.
Tiga: It's very good to have you with us. First up, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background. Where did you grow up, where's home for you?
Meryl: I grew up pretty far away from here in New York, over in the US, but I've been in Australia for 23 years. My husband's Australian and I'm an import. So, I came out here in 1989 and I have four children that were all born and raised in Australia.
Tiga: Ok. And the Australian Vaccination Network. Some people, and I was one of them, used to call it the Anti-Vaccination Network but it is the Australian Vaccination Network because you aren't anti-vaccination.
Meryl: That's right. We actually think that it's wrong to be anti- or pro- vaccination except for yourself. But being anti-vaccine as an organisation would mean, as far as we're concerned, telling people that they shouldn't vaccinate and we never do that. We believe very strongly that it's everyone's right to make that decision. But it's also their responsibility to make an informed choice and they should have access to all of the available information before they make the decision. So we advise parents to come to us and get our side of the story, go to their doctor or their council clinic and get their side of the story, make up a list of questions, ask both parties the questions, and then when you feel confident, make your decision. And if your decision is to go ahead and vaccinate, then that's the right choice for you. And if it's to vaccinate selectively, using some vaccines and not others, that's also the right choice. And if your choice is to not vaccinate at all, after you've looked at all the available information, then you've made the right decision for your family.
Tiga: Yes, the system doesn't encourage us as parents and grandparents to do anything other than vaccinate. The propaganda is all out there, and there's so much of it, and rarely do we get the opportunity to hear somebody say 'look, here's another angle on things, here's another side to that story, here's some more information regarding what you're doing, regarding what vaccination means'. Is that the case?
Meryl: What you said is so true. Not only doesn't it encourage parents, or other people who are trying to make a decision about vaccination to make an informed choice, they actively discourage it. We have the Health Minister in Queensland saying that it's nonsense to look at the other side of the vaccination issue. And the National Health and Medical Research Council, which is the government body that's involved with this, says that you have to be able to make an informed choice. So all we're doing is trying to support what the National Health and Medical Research Council says, and allow people to make an informed choice. If doctors and the government were doing their job, we wouldn't even have to be here. I could be off having fun with my family and instead I'm sitting here working. But it's all ok because it's very important that this information is available.
Tiga: You have a personal experience in regard to a vaccinated child of your own? Or somebody in your family?
Meryl: Yes. That's right. That's how I became interested in the issue in the first place. Because I came from a family with a lot of medical doctors in it, I studied science in university, and I never even questioned vaccination. When my son was born we took him in at 2 months for his first round of shots; back then they didn't have the shots at birth like they do, I mean it was 2 months was the first vaccine and I never even thought twice about it because I thought it could only help, it could never harm. And he had a dreadful reaction and he's 22 years old now and he still suffers from that first lot of vaccines and the vaccines we continued to give him, because at that point I was more afraid of the disease than I was of the vaccines, and I couldn't find any information. I tried really hard to. My son had five hours of high pitched screaming after his vaccine, he had sleep apnea where he stopped breathing in his sleep - a lot of parents will see their kids do this - he stopped breathing in his sleep, he developed serious breathing problems where he still has this today, he doesn't breathe very well, and he also developed immune system problems where he gets sick all the time and he still has that today. Even with all of our work it's improved but it hasn't gone away completely. And we were lucky because when I brought him back to the doctor for his next round of shots, the doctor said to me at that point, after what had happened last time that he was going to leave the whooping cough out. You can't even do that today because those vaccines aren't available. But he said he would leave out the whooping cough, and that was the first time I realised that the vaccine was what had actually caused his problems. And it took me almost 12 months, almost a year after that, to be able to find any information about vaccination at all. We think it's not fair. Parents deserve a fair go, they need to know this information before they make a decision. And doctors and the government, in general, are not giving it to them.
Tiga: Yes, so you think that there's no doubt that it was the vaccine that caused these issues with your baby at the time.
Meryl: I believe there was no doubt, my doctor believes there was no doubt. And we have an adverse reactions register at the AVN where we've collected over 1200 reports of serious reactions and deaths following vaccination. And I can tell you that there are dozens of children who had exactly the same reaction as my son. What happens in Australia is that only about one percent of reactions that happen after drugs, or vaccines, ever get reported. So when doctors tell us, oh the vaccines are perfectly safe, what they're doing is they're basing that statement on information that's at least 99% incorrect. You wouldn't make a decision on information that was so incorrect if you knew how wrong it was. So, I think that parents need to be aware that doctors are not reporting reactions. And we have a reactions database where they can report to us, and we report to the government. And, of course, since we've never had the funding to actually advertise it, except in interviews like this, the reports that we get are just the tip of the iceberg.
Tiga: And that's similar sort of reporting... doctors... we were talking earlier, and doctors, you would like to have doctors report. There was another issue, wasn't there, when they're treating people, you were saying...
Meryl: That's right. We're going to Canberra to lobby federal parliament in February for four things. Do you want me to go through those four things now?
Tiga: Let's leave that for a minute. Let's go back a step to... sorry to confuse you there... let's go back to Woodford. You're attending Woodford? You've been invited or accepted to do a presentation there? This is not the first time you've been to Woodford?
Meryl: No, this is my third time speaking at Woodford. I've been invited to give a talk on the connection between vaccinations and autism, and then also to participate in a forum on the issue of toxicity, which is like different toxins in the environment, one of which is vaccinations. And on the forum, there are two very pro-vaccination doctors speaking, so there will be both sides shown, but there is an organisation called the Australian Skeptics, and they set up about three years ago a sub-group called "Stop the AVN". As their name says, their goal is to shut the Australian Vaccination Network down. And they will do anything and everything within their power to force us to close our doors, because they don't believe that anyone should be able to get this information. They just think everyone should vaccinate, just listen to your doctor, nobody who is not a doctor is able or has a right to talk about this information. So, what happened is, when they heard that I was speaking at Woodford this year, they started up a campaign, a letter-writing campaign, to the sponsors of the Woodford Festival. And the Woodford Festival is associated with The Dreaming right now, so they've pulled the sponsors of The Dreaming as well, it's not just Woodford. So they've contacted all the sponsors, they've been harassing the administrators - the committee that runs Woodford - they are trying to get them to cancel my talk because they think that it's wrong for me to be speaking there and for anyone to be able to hear me speak. And they say that we don't have freedom of speech in Australia, which is not correct.
Tiga: They sound like they're rather sad small-minded people to expect us all, the public of this country, to just accept what the doctor says? I mean, by gee. The Queensland Health doesn't have a great track record and health in Australia doesn't have a great track record. And doctors are some of the key people there.
Meryl: You are saying something that is so true, Tiga. Every year in Australia about 18000 people as a result of adverse reactions to properly prescribed drugs and medical error. The health departments and the medical community do not have a great track record when it comes to keeping people healthy. The Australian Bureau of Statistics say that 40 percent, almost half of all Australian children under the age of 12, are currently being treated for at least one chronic condition, so they're on medication all the time for a chronic condition. That was not the case 20 or 30 years ago, this is something fairly recent. The AVN says that the medical literature is showing that vaccinations can be one of the causes, certainly not the only cause for that problem. But people need to be aware of what vaccines they are giving their children, why they're vaccinating and how effective and how safe the vaccines are. And this organisation, Stop the AVN, says you're not entitled to know that. And I think that people should be aware that there is such a strong push, from a very small section of the community, to stop them from being informed.
Tiga: They are, they would be. I don't know them at all, but they must be a very small section of the community, but it sounds like they could be well funded by somebody behind the scenes, maybe, if they can put so much effort and energy into this. I mean, why don't they look at other more positive things and, first of all acknowledge, that there is freedom of speech in this country regardless of what they like to think or say, there is freedom of speech. And it's our right as parents and family members to be making free and informed decisions, and give free and informed consent, if we disagree.
Meryl: They disagree with what you've just said. They say we don't have freedom of speech and you don't have a right to say no.
Tiga: Well, I've got news for them. Meryl, I've got news for them. Now tell me, you have some serious threats. These same people are behind, do you think they are behind some of the threats and making life uncomfortable for you?
Meryl: Oh there's no doubt about it. They are behind a lot of the threats, because they are quite open about it. Some of the things that have been done, have been done anonymously, but most of the threats that have been put out, telling me that I should die, saying, I've had something on Facebook saying "we're coming for you, babykiller", all of these things have been done quite openly by this group. I have contacted the police about this three times and the police say that it's not a threat unless it's, they call it a credible threat, where... if they said "we're coming for you, babykiller, on Thursday the 25th of December at 3 o'clock in the afternoon" that would have been a credible threat. But simply saying "we're coming for you, babykiller" is not a credible threat. And we know that's not the case because the police have acted on threats like this before, so there seems to be a bit of bias amongst the police force itself not wanting to take action against these people for what they're doing. And it's been ongoing for close on three years now and it's been very difficult. They have filed complaints with just about every government department you can possibly imagine, and government departments have been complicit with this group, and have gone along with what they've said. And this has caused great distress for the Australian Vaccination Network as an organisation, with me as an individual. We've been a charity since 1997 and because of the actions of this group, we've had our charity authority revoked. So we can't take members, we can't take donations. I've had to let go my office staff and I'm doing everything on my own. But I think, and our members think, that it's so important that people are able to access this information that we give freely, that I am not giving up, we're going to continue as long as we possibly can.
Tiga: Well, it's certainly good news to hear that you're not going to give up, that these people can't shut Meryl Dorey down. That's really good news. Now, I've got a caller on the line, Phil would like to contribute to the program. Phil, hello, how are you?
Phil: I'm very well and yourself?
Tiga: I'm very well, on top of the world.
Phil: Good to hear.
Tiga: What would you like to say?
Phil: Well, I have a few issues with what Meryl is saying. The StopAVN Facebook group has nothing to do with the Australian Skeptics, for one thing, all the activities of StopAVN is crowd-funded, just by members, there's no big dollars coming in from anywhere else.
Tiga: So the skeptics are supportive of what Meryl does then, I take it, and what you're saying.
Phil: Well, the issue with the Australian Skeptics is a separate one. What I'm saying is StopAVN and Australian Skeptics are not linked.
Tiga: Right. Are you with the Australian Skeptics, are you?
Phil: Well, I'm a member of both groups, just by coincidence, but the big problem with Meryl is she does not stick to facts.
Tiga: Oh right.
Phil: She constantly repeats myths about vaccination. She has no expertise in immunology or medicine. So anything she says is tainted by the lies she tells.
Tiga: And the skeptics... is it right then what Meryl... was Meryl correct when she said the skeptics say that we don't have freedom of speech. Is that something the skeptics would say? In this regard?
Phil: Well, it may be implied. But this isn't a freedom of speech issue.
Tiga: But it may be implied, ok.
Phil: This is someone being given a special platform to repeat lies, essentially.
Tiga: No, this is someone that's been given a platform to balance up the propaganda that's out there. How often do we get the opportunity to hear what the propaganda is not about, or what the propaganda really is about, and we should be hearing it. What's wrong with free and informed consent?
Phil: There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the issue is about Meryl telling lies.
Phil: She cannot stick to the truth; if she was telling the truth we wouldn't have any issues. If she wanted to give actual evidence of what was going on in terms of vaccine reactions and what not, her talks would be very short.
Tiga: Really? That's surprising even for me. Alright mate, well thanks for your call anyway, you obviously don't agree and think she's telling lies. Thanks for your call.
Phil: Thank you.
Tiga: It's good to make your point, thanks very much. Well, Meryl?
Meryl: Yes, well, I mean most...
Tiga: You're telling lies, Meryl! What are you doing on this radio station telling lies?!
Meryl: It's really sad, Tiga, what happens is if I say something that they don't disagree with I'm lying. I can say that too, I can say that the doctors who are saying that vaccines are perfectly safe are telling lies, but I won't say that. They believe in what they're saying. And they may have some evidence to back up what they're saying. When I discuss issues about vaccination, I back up what I say with references to primary medical literature to the medical journals. That's not telling lies.
Tiga: That certainly isn't telling lies, you are right.
Meryl: It's not right to say that someone is lying just because you disagree with what they're saying. Everyone has the right to communicate. What the Stop the AVN are saying is that if I speak at Woodford, people may be convinced to not vaccinate their children, and therefore I'm dangerous by actually giving out this information. Because they don't believe that people are smart enough to make that decision. I believe that people are smart enough to look at both sides of this issue and to make a choice that's good for them. I am not opposed to them giving out their information, I'm not opposed to anybody giving out their information. We actually support complete information from both sides. We advise people to go to their doctors; doctors never advise people to come to us. So, I think what Phil is saying is a little bit, well, very wrong, I have to say, because I don't tell lies, I give information and I advise people to get both sides of the story before they make a decision.
Tiga: And by the way, Phil said, no the skeptics don't tell lies, well, he didn't say they don't tell lies, he said they don't say there isn't any freedom of speech, they might imply that.
Meryl: Well, they've actually said it. It's been said several times. We don't have freedom of speech in Australia. Many of them have said that and I have quotes on the internet, you can see it.
Tiga: But even to imply it, Meryl.
Meryl: Well, it's more than implication because they actually have said that.
Tiga: Now, there was an article in the Courier Mail last week, that highlighted the issue, that you were going to be at Woodford and that the Health minister, Rachel, was it Rachel? The Arts minister, I think, Rachel... it will come to me soon. But the Arts minister was lobbied and, like you say, the organiser of the festival was lobbied to not have you there. You appear to be a hated woman.
Meryl: Yes, there is a sector of the community that absolutely hates what the AVN stands for and hates what I do. And like I said, they will do anything and everything to stop me from speaking. And this is really wrong. This is really, really wrong.
Tiga: And to hide behind anonymity too, doesn't really make any heroes of anybody. Some of those messages
Meryl: No, they're cowards. They're basically cowards.
Meryl: I mean, cyberbullying is what they do on their website and on the internet. They cyberbully not just me but anyone who supports the organisation. Our magazine no longer takes advertising and that's not because we can't get advertising - there are people who are out there willing to advertise, we get contacted all the time - but I have refused to take advertising because what happens is, this group then goes out and targets our advertisers. They take their websites down, they hack their website. They tell people not to buy from them, and I won't put people who support what we do, in that position. So, I absolutely will not take advertising at this point in time. They do the same thing with anyone who publically comes out and says they support us.
Tiga: That's criminal activity. I mean, this is outrageous that this can be done.
Meryl: Well, I believe it. Yeah, it's criminal, but the police won't do anything about it. And we are currently in the NSW State Supreme Court, we're taking the Health Care Complaints Commission to court in February because they have issued a warning against us and we believe that they have done that improperly. And they have issued a warning based on information given to them by this group, Stop the AVN.
Tiga: Right. Now's there been other presentations you've done, in other parts of the state or the country, where you've had local media, some space bought in local media, by your naysayers?
Meryl: Yes, that's right. Everytime I do a talk anywhere, for instance, I just did 7 seminars in Western Australia, and it's interesting that Phil said that they don't have money, but they took out very large ads, I mean half-page ads in some cases, in newspapers. If I was giving a talk in Geraldton, for instance, they would take out an ad in Geraldton to say don't listen to the AVN, they don't have proper information. We couldn't afford to advertise our own seminars but they had enough money to take out these ads, so I think it's a little bit strange that he says they have no money. They have contacted all the venues where I am presenting seminars to try to get them to cancel my booking, and they were successful in one case. In Perth, about a year ago, your listeners may remember the flu vaccination campaign out in Perth where 400 kids had serious reactions and over 230 of them were hospitalised. I did a seminar out there at a Uniting Church hall I had booked out and we had a completely sold-out seminar and as I was waiting at the airport to fly out to Western Australia, because I'm in New South Wales, I got a call from the venue to say that they were cancelling because they'd been lobbied by this Stop the AVN group and they decided to cancel. It ended up backfiring on Stop the AVN because I managed to find a venue at the State Library that held twice as many people. We booked it, they tried to get the State Library to cancel, the State Library refused and we had a sell-out of about 225 people there. So all because of the publicity, and all because Australians, I think, at heart, really don't like people telling other people that they can't talk.
Tiga: Yes. I think that's one of the things, for sure.
Meryl: That's right. Whether you believe in vaccinations, you support it or not, it doesn't matter. At heart, Australians are fair people, and they believe that people have a right to know the information and to communicate with each other. And that's one thing that this group does, is they say we can't communicate with each other, and that puts people off.
Tiga: Alright. Now Meryl, there must be an abundance of these sorts of, this sort of information and statistics, where the flu vaccination, 400 immunised, and almost half of them adversely reacted, there must be an abundance of this sort of information, even in just the last 10 years say, you don't have to go back too far, the last 5 to 10 years.
Meryl: Now there's heaps of information, and actually there's a journalist at The Australian newspaper, her name is Natasha Bita, and she just won the Walkely Award, which is the top journalism award, for her coverage of this issue. What happened is, the flu vaccine has never been used in Australia in young children before, they used it from six months of age. And this started out as a trial in Western Australia. The drug companies were sponsoring this trial and the parents were not being told that their kids were being used as guinea-pigs. And the government wrote letters to all the parents to say, we have a new vaccine for flu, this was the swine flu, there were supposed to be all these deaths from swine flu, we have this brand new vaccine, please give it to your children 'cause it will keep them safe, this is a great vaccine, it's been tested, it's perfectly safe. So thousands of parents went out and got their kids vaccinated. They had over 400 reactions in a very short period of time. 230 kids were hospitalised, at least one has died, and at least one is brain damaged. Again, we don't know many because most doctors don't report these reactions. And the vaccine had to be withdrawn. And what Natasha Bita found is that the government colluded with the company that made the vaccine, they knew that the information that was in the manufacturer's package insert was not correct, and they allowed them to put it out that way. They did two studies of the vaccine, one in 2006 and one in 2008. The one in 2006 showed very few reactions; the one in 2008 showed very high reactions. So when they put out their information about this vaccine, they ignored the one from 2008 and used the one from 2006. So parents had no idea that the vaccine was dangerous until their kids had been vaccinated. And this is the sort of thing that goes on and we have information about all of these vaccines that's very similar. For instance, people think that because we vaccinated against these diseases, against whooping cough, against measles, against mumps, that that means that's why the deaths from these diseases has declined. But the government's own information show that at least 90% of the decline from deaths from these diseases occurred before the vaccinations were introduced. So vaccination had nothing to do with the decline in death from these diseases. And I think if parents knew that, they wouldn't be so afraid of their kids getting these diseases, and they wouldn't be so afraid of choosing not to vaccinate. They also don't know that even if you're vaccinated you can still get the disease. So, if you're vaccinated against whooping cough, you can still get whooping cough.
Tiga: So there's no guarantees, and the health department and doctors will not give you a guarantee that if you get vaccinated, you're safe. There's no guarantees, is there.
Meryl: That's right. And that's why we don't call them immunisations because to be immunised means you're protected. And you're never immunised when you're vaccinated. You can be vaccinated and be protected or you can be vaccinated and still get the disease, there's no way of telling. So they're vaccinations, they're not immunisations, because you're not immune when you've been vaccinated.
Tiga: Yeah. Just looking at Stop the Australian Vaccination Network, something has come up on the internet. They don't like natural remedies. They seem to think that pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines are the answer. I mean, my goodness me.
Tiga: I mean, my people, first nations people, have used natural remedies for long before vaccinations came to town, come to this country.
Meryl: Exactly. And they were effective and they worked. For instance, Chinese Herbal Medicine has a history of 5000 years; aboriginal medications using the natural herbs and the plants in Australia, forty thousand years, done properly. You know, allopathic medicine, western medicine, less than 200 years.
Tiga: So, they hate all natural therapies, natural remedies. This is a sad group of people, here.
Meryl: They hate anything that is not pharmaceuticals, anything that is not medical. They think the government should shut down all homeopaths, all natural therapists, all ayurvedic therapists, anyone who uses Chinese Herbal Medicine, anyone who uses acupuncture; they call it "woo". It's just a way of saying that it doesn't work. And anything that comes out and says that it works, even if it's published in a medical journal, they say that that's not true, it was somehow done improperly. So, they call themselves skeptics but they're not at all skeptical about western medicine, they are only skeptical about anything that is natural.
Tiga: Good point to make. Good point to make. True skeptics would be skeptical about everything.
Meryl: That's right. That's the definition of skeptical.
Tiga: I'm talking to Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network. The network is people who are not anti-vaccination; they are in favour of free speech and making sure the information is out there for you to make an informed decision about whether you wish your children to be vaccinated or not. Meryl, there is a big push on at the moment. My kids have raised it with me just in past weeks regarding the government's payment and things, how they can only get half the payment if you're not vaccinated, fully vaccinated, stuff like this. What's the situation because my kids have always been conscientious objectors and been able to fill out a form, with that regard. What's the situation with this push?
Meryl: They still can. The way it works is, there are two different forms. There's a conscientious objector form and there's a medical objector form. The medical objector is if your child has had a reaction to a previous vaccine. The conscientious objector is if you just say you don't want to vaccinate. Now, an important thing for everyone to know is that vaccination is not compulsory for school, for pre-school, for childcare, nothing. None of those things can exclude a child simply because they're unvaccinated. There's a lot of misinformation about that. But the other thing is with this new payment, it's going to total 2100 dollars, so it's quite substantial, and most parents could actually use that money. The government has put out a lot of information saying that right now you need to vaccinate in order to get that payment, but that's not true. And all the media's been saying you have to vaccinate to get that payment.
Tiga: So, the government is responsible also for misinformation.
Meryl: Very much so. And we're going to be complaining about that, but unfortunately what happens is you complain to the Ombudsman, and the Ombudsman says, oh well, tell the minister for health about this. It's the Minister for Health who's misinforming people in the first place. So there's really no way to complain.
Meryl: I know. That's why the media is so important. Why programs like yours are so important, because if parents know that there's an out, and there is an out, because vaccination is not compulsory in Australia, and it would be illegal for the government to say you needed to vaccinate and not give you an option to say no. So, what you need to do is register as a conscientious objector. And what that involves is getting this form. Now all Centrelink offices, all Medicare offices, and all GP's are required by law to have it. But usually, when you go there, they don't. So we have it on our website, you can download it. There's a link on our website that they can get it. And they have to go see what's called an immunisation provider. So that's either a GP or a council nurse that gives vaccines. If you are intimidated, if you're afraid of going to one of these doctors or to the clinic nurse without having someone to support you, we have a buddy system. We have people in Brisbane who have said that they are willing to go along with you, to support you, when you get this form signed. So all they need to do is contact us and we'll find a buddy in their area who will go along with them. Because doctors are required by law to sign the form, but some doctors are saying no, and they're saying no in a very nasty way. We've had some people be absolutely abused by their doctors, simply because they wanted to be registered as a conscientious objector. So, the government cannot withhold these payments, every parent is entitled to get it, whether they vaccinate in total, selectively, or not at all. And people need to know that.
Tiga: And Meryl, you know for a long, long time - I'm that close to 60 it's not funny - for a long, long time I've heard these stories about communism, how wicked it is, how controlling of people they are. What are these people, like governments, doctors, Stop the Australian Vaccination Network, the skeptics, what are these people when it's controlling, and the haters that are out there. What's the difference, probably even much better off under a communist system.
Meryl: That's right. There isn't any difference. And Stop the AVN is a hate group. They definitely are. They act like a hate group, they're abusive, they're bullies. So, yeah, I agree with you 100% with what you're saying and it's anti-democratic. You know, in a democracy we do have this right to choose, we do have the right to speak, so anyone who says we're not is not democratic, and I think we all want to live in a democracy.
Tiga: First Nations peoples health deplorable, epidemic proportions, right across the board in this country, has been for a long, well since colonisation. And vaccines can impact quite severely on some First Nations, especially people of poor health. Is that a fair comment?
Meryl: It's very much a fair comment, and I'm not sure if you've ever read Archie Kalokerinos' book Every Second Child
Tiga: I knew Archie Kalokerinos, he was the doctor for my third-eldest, second-eldest child.
Meryl: Was that in Collarenebri?
Tiga: No, it was in Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service. Before he went back to Collarenebri.
Meryl: Ok, he worked at Collarenebri for many years and he wrote this book based on his experiences. And he found that 50% of aboriginal babies were dying after vaccinations. Half of all aboriginal babies were dying. And do you know that when he published his book it was banned in Australia.
Tiga: He was discredited by the medical association, the health department, everybody, yes.
Meryl: That's right. But when he left... when he was a doctor for 10 years in Collarenebri, they had no sudden infant deaths at all, no infant mortality amongst aboriginals. And then when he left, it went back up to 50 percent.
Tiga: There you go.
Meryl: He didn't vaccinate and when he left, they did. And he also gave the women vitamin C in high doses and he made sure they breastfed. And those are the best things you can do to make sure you have a healthy baby. If your diet's not great, lots of vitamin C, and breastfeeding for as long as possible. And the babies were healthy, they were growing up healthy.
Tiga: While he was at the Aboriginal Medical Centre in Redfern, they'd just celebrated their 40th year. And he was there for quite a number of years. I saw him, he had a formula, a mixture, largely vitamin C but there was one or two other things in it, and he would intravenously put that into a person that suffered from heroin addiction.
Tiga: And, four or five hours at a time, for a couple of days. And there was complete withdrawal without any of the negative side-effects of withdrawals and stuff. He was an amazing man.
Meryl: I think he's still around, though I don't think he's very well. But I'm pretty sure he's still around. And he was an amazing doctor and there is so many very effective and safe therapies that have been suppressed because of the pharmaceutical companies protecting their own interests.
Tiga: What are the alternatives now for people who want to become conscientious objectors.
Meryl: Well, all they have to do is get that form filled in and...
Tiga: No, sorry, but as far as taking care of the health of their children. If they don't want to go down the vaccination pathway, what are their options?
Meryl: I get you now. I'm not a medical professional so I can't give medical advice. But I can tell you some of the information that's been published in our magazines by medical professionals. Now there is something called homeopathic vaccination or homeopathic prophylaxis. And this has been studied, it's been used in South American countries, in India, in Cuba. Cuba's using it almost exclusively now for many diseases. And you can get this from homeopaths. Every single disease that we currently vaccinate against there is a homeopathic preventative. So, there is information on there, I won't recommend that people do it without looking into the information, but certainly get the information. It's a valid alternative to medical vaccination. A lot of people just say that I'm going to keep my children healthy by making sure that they have really good food, feeding organic food, lots of fruits and vegetables. You know, if they have meat, it's organic or free-range, just with few chemicals as they possibly can. They use naturopathy and herbal medicine to treat and prevent diseases. And basically, they don't necessarily worry about some of these diseases. Measles, in a healthy well-nourished child, has never been considered a killer disease, at least not in the last hundred years. And before the measles vaccine came in we had three deaths a year from measles in Australia, so why they brought it in when so few children were dying, I have no idea. But in a healthy well-nourished child diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken-pox, were never considered deadly diseases for at least the last hundred years. So get over the fear of disease and start looking at the information. What vaccines do we want to choose, what diseases are worth preventing, and will the vaccines actually prevent them. Those are the questions parents need to ask themselves. And speak with a good natural practitioner, speak with a homeopath, a naturopath, a chiropractor. You know, speak with other practitioners about different ways of dealing with infectious disease and illness. And you probably will end up being a lot healthier for it.
Tiga: Yes, there's no question about that. My daughter's children, grandchildren, they've been using homeopathics for a long, long time as I have. And I don't trust the medical system. Sure, there's a, and this is me personally, my own personal comments and experience, but there is a time when you need to go to a doctor and I go for check-ups and things like that. But no, I prefer the homeopathics and I have a great hom-hom-homeopath.
Meryl: It's a tough word isn't it.
Tiga: It can be a tongue-twister. I have a great homeopath and gotten some great results, and I've just had a call from a listener. Sue's called in and said her daughter uses homeopaths and getting great results and has been using it for some time. So thanks for your call, Sue. Now, Meryl, tell me about the Canberra trip because you're on a mission, you want some changes made.
Meryl: That's right.
Tiga: Tell us about it.
Meryl: We're going in February when parliament sits again. People have been saying that you're just a small group of mums, really, how do you expect to make changes. But the whole reason that we have a conscientious objection available in Australia is because in 1998 we went to Canberra and we got legislation introduced into parliament to allow parents to be conscientious objectors to vaccination.
Tiga: So that small group of mums can be effective.
Meryl: That's exactly right. Never say never. We are asking the government for four things. The first one is, by law doctors should report all adverse reactions to vaccinations. Right now we get about one percent of all reactions reported and that's not good enough. When we're told that vaccines are safe, they're basing that on information that is 99 percent wrong. And I don't think anyone can feel comfortable with that. So we think that doctors should be required, by law, to report all reactions that are reported to them. The other thing is we say that doctors should be required to say, when someone gets one of these diseases, whether or not they were vaccinated. Right now, if you go to your doctor and the doctor says, oh your child's got whooping cough, by law, he has to tell the department of health that your child has just come down with whooping cough. But on that form where he reports that, there isn't even a place for him to put whether or not your child was vaccinated. And right now we've got the biggest epidemic of whooping cough we've ever had in Australia and we also have the highest level of whooping cough vaccination we've ever had in Australia, and yet the government is saying we need to do more vaccines because we've got so many cases.
Tiga: How do they explain that, if they've got the highest rate of vaccinations, and the highest rate of what they've been vaccinated against... My god.
Meryl: They ignore that. They don't explain it, they just ignore it. Or they say that it's happening in the unvaccinated. And there is no evidence that that's the case because they're not even saying whether or not these people are vaccinated. So, if doctors are required to say that your child's got the disease, they should also be required to say that your child was vaccinated against it. What if we have 35000 cases of whooping cough and 31000 of them are in children who are fully vaccinated, don't you think that's important information. The government needs to keep track of this.
Tiga: That's highly likely, isn't it. The way the government has been pushing vaccination for quite some time, it's highly likely that the majority of these cases have been vaccinated.
Meryl: Well, South Australia did a small trial where they actually tracked how many were vaccinated. This was about 10 years ago, they stopped it I think because they got the results they didn't want to get. And they found that 87% of the kids who came down with whooping cough were fully vaccinated against whooping cough, that's for the ones they had vaccination status for. So almost 90% of those kids were fully vaccinated.
Tiga: Say no more.
Meryl: And they stopped the study. They just stopped it. So, we really want the government to do this.
Tiga: Of course. If that's not a good enough reason for people to be open-minded and look into the vaccination situation and make an informed decision, that's all that you ask and propose, that they make an informed decision. Now look, what else is happening for you for Canberra? The other issues?
Meryl: Well, another issue that we want, is we want, by law, all doctors to provide parents with the manufacturer's package insert for the vaccine. Now in Australia our government does not test or study any vaccines, all that is done by the drug companies. And the drug companies put out these package inserts, they are leaflets that come with all the vaccines, and we want the government to give this to the parents, and we want them to highlight three sections that parents can have this information before they say yes or no. And those three sections are the ingredients, so what's in the vaccines, does it have mercury, does it have heavy metals, does it have formaldehyde, does it have aluminium in there. We want them to know that, we want them to know the known reactions that can occur after the vaccination, that's in the manufacturer's package insert; and we want them to see what's called the contra-indications. Now these are the reasons why the vaccine may not be appropriate for everyone. Do you have a family history of seizures, do you have a family history of asthma, or food allergies, do you have a family history of reacting to a certain antibiotic. Parents need to know this before they make the decision to vaccinate. And doctors are not giving them this information, so we want this to be passed into law, so parents have to get this information before they say yes or no. And the fourth thing that we're going to do is we are going to try and get the government to look at this requirement to be vaccinated in order to get certain payments. Even though there's a conscientious objection available, which of course they don't make parents know very easily, we want to look at the constitution and say this information says that what your policy is, linking vaccinations with government payments, is unconstitutional. Get rid of any link between government payments and vaccinations. If parents want to vaccinate that's their right, if parents don't want to vaccinate, that's their right, and it should have nothing to do with money, and nothing to do with the government.
Tiga: Well, that's like cash for comment on radio. If you're going to be handing out money to get vaccinated you might as well just allow us to be paid in the little brown envelopes like a few other mainstream well-known Australian talk-show hosts were doing some years ago. No difference.
Meryl: Exactly. Exactly. It's unethical, immoral, and it's just plain wrong.
Tiga: It's just outrageous.
Meryl: That's right.
Tiga: This is unbelievable that you can stay so strong and positive in the face of the haters. I mean, you should be given a medal, Meryl, this is amazing that you can do it.
Meryl: Thanks, Tiga. I don't do it on my own. We have members and they are very supportive of me, they write letters to thank me and they keep me going.
Tiga: How can people contact you. You've got a newsletter, Living Wisdom, that people can subscribe to. And a website.
Meryl: People can subscribe to our magazine. We've got a website, all the information's there, it's avn.org.au And they're welcome to call us as well. It's 02 6687 1699. So they can either email through the website, just look at the website, or give me a call. And I really urge anyone who is listening to this, if they or their children have had an adverse reaction to vaccination, please visit the website and fill in the reaction report form, 'cause we need to get these reactions reported.
Tiga: Meryl, thanks for joining us today and good luck with the Woodford gig.
Meryl: Tiga, thank you so much, I really appreciate that
Tiga: We'll be talking again in the new year, don't you worry.
[thanks and goodbyes not transcribed]
Posted: 18 Nov 2012
Last update: 17 Jun 2014