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Anti-Vaccination Film Secrecy Upsets Top Community Doctor

Media Release

6 April 2017

Anti-Vaccination Film Secrecy Upsets Top Community Doctor

The “cloak and dagger” antics of WavesNZ, organisers of the Vaxxed: from Cover-Up to Catastrophe film have clinician and father Dr Lance O'Sullivan hopping mad.

Dr O'Sullivan says parents need to be concerned because the fact is immunisation is safe as well as extremely important for the wellbeing of our children.

“There is absolutely no scientific evidence that shows immunisation causes autism. Also, serious infections that we know should be non-existent or at least very rare, in our communities are alive and well because parents are not immunising their children.”

The location of screenings of Vaxxed across New Zealand – including Whangarei and potentially Kaitaia - have been kept a secret with WavesNZ organisers only notifying the ticket holders where the screening venue is a few hours before the screening. WavesNZ, which describes itself as a charitable organisation, is not a registered charity.

“I would really like to know what it is they need to hide,” Dr O’Sullivan said. “Is it the fact that the director of the film is a discredited scientist?”

The film is directed by Andrew Wakefield, who published fraudulent research linking the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism and bowel disease. Wakefield’s fraudulent 1998 Lancet research was described by Dr Dennis K Flaherty of the University of Charleston as having created a public health crisis. Dr Flaherty called Wakefield’s publication “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years.”

Dr O’Sullivan said immunisation works at a population level thanks to herd immunity, because when the vast majority of the population are immune to a disease, it struggles to find new hosts to infect.

This means babies and young children, who haven't yet had their vaccinations, are protected too. This level of protection becomes weaker if there is less immunisation amongst older children and adults.

“The measles outbreak in the Waikato last year, where 71 of the 89 had not been vaccinated against the disease, is a good example of how a preventable disease can take hold in a community,” Dr O’Sullivan said, adding the organisers should come out of the closet and allow parents to make an informed decision.

“All children in our community deserve to be protected by a best practice decision, and best practice means immunising children.”

The Autistic Collective on April 3 called the Vaxxed film a “sham” which “perpetuates false understandings of both autism and vaccines.”

Altogether Autism journal said last month there is no causal relationship between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Paediatric Society’s chair Dr David Newman told the journal, “The key fact is that even if thiomersal was linked to autism (which it is not) New Zealand childhood vaccines have not contained thiomersal since 2000, making it impossible that mercury in vaccines is in any way linked to the reported increase in autism diagnoses in New Zealand.”

Dr Lance O’Sullivan was voted Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year in 2014. He was in 2013 acknowledged as an emerging leader by the Sir Peter Blake Trust, named a public health champion by the Public Health Association, made Maori of the Year in 2013 and was in 2014 named by Reader's Digest as the second-most-trusted New Zealander, behind Victoria Cross winner Willie Apiata and ahead of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

Child vaccines, which are free in New Zealand, begin when your child is six weeks old. Northland District Health Board is hoping more parents will take up immunisation for their tamariki this month. Immunisation uses the body's natural defence mechanism, the immune response, to build resistance to specific infections.

If you have questions, talk to your doctor or practice nurse or call the Immunisation Advisory Centre’s free helpline on 0800 466 863.


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