Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has recently received an e-petition from almost 500 concerned citizens asking her to publicly denounce the Australian Vaccination Sceptics Network (AVSN) and their participation in a healthy lifestyle expo on the Sunshine Coast.
Dr Young said she has always shown unwavering support for vaccinations and is very supportive of any positive messages encouraging parents to vaccinate.
“It is my understanding that the Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit told the organisers months ago that Queensland Health would not be participating in any vaccination debates.
“Like every state of Australia we are very pro-vaccination and will continue to disseminate positive messages about the benefits of vaccination,” Dr Young said.
“The bottom line is that most people accept vaccination as a vital component of protecting their child from preventable disease.
“As a society we have an obligation to protect our children. If you are not vaccinating your child you are potentially not only harming them, but also children who can’t be vaccinated – like kids with cancer and babies less than six months old.
“There are some very small, but vocal groups like the AVSN who insist on spreading misinformation and debunked theories.
“While I wholeheartedly disagree with them, legally I am in no position to restrict their movements in this state.
“This is not a debate about ‘free speech’; it’s about the fact that there’s a small percentage of people who are under the misconception that there are two sides to this story, because there simply isn’t.
“I am on the record saying most parents do the right thing and vaccinate their children. The majority of Queensland regions have 90% or more of their children vaccinated across all age groups.
“We will continue our work on some of the areas that could be higher.
“We do not believe that attending an expo and being some sort of drawcard with ‘debate’ between the AVSN and Queensland Health is going to help our cause.
“If event organisers of health expos practiced due diligence, they would not invite groups such as AVSN to participate because that organisation is not ‘healthy’ at all.
“Anyone with concerns about the presence of the AVSN should direct them to the event organisers,” she said.