Compulsory Ignorance: More Anti-Vax Propaganda From The AVN

Anti-Vax Propaganda from the AVN

Anti-Vax Propaganda from the AVN

A couple of weeks ago, I reported on the Australian Skeptics and their battle with the Australian Vaccination Network.  The AVN are a ‘pro-choice’ organisation which promotes the spread of information and debate on vaccines. No, wait, sorry, I’ve got that completely wrong – they’re a deceitful, weaselly organisation spreading misinformation, rumour and lies when it comes to vaccination. Led by Meryl Dorey, the AVN have made dangerous and deceitful claims that nobody dies of whooping cough, that the swine flu pandemic was planned and deliberate and that  the MMR vaccine causes autism.

The latest ignorant and dangerous pseudomedical crap from AVN’s website is this presentation, a 46-page PDF of hateful anti-vax propaganda. It’s so blood-boilingly, insultingly and pathetically manipulative it really has to be taken piece-by-piece, so permit me to do so.

Page 1 declares, in gaudy, sensationalist, fear-mongeringly red block capitals:

Compulsory Vaccination: IT’S HERE!

Erm, yes, true enough. It is here, admittedly in some very specific circumstances, but I’m with you so far. What next, Meryl?

February 2007, NSW became the first state to mandate full vaccination (10 required vaccines) for all medical staff and allied health students. Failure to comply will result in expulsion from school or loss of employment/transfer to another area of the facility if that area exists.

July 2007 – jump on the bandwagon
All other Australian states and territories have now introduced similar policies for their health students. Hospital policies will follow shortly

OK, so far so innocuous – although a successful scheme to raise vaccination rates and therefore lower rates of infection, injury and death from some very nasty diseases is somewhat flippantly dismissed as a ‘bandwagon’. And if it is a bandwagon – fuck it, it’s precisely the kind of bandwagon there should be more of. If there were a pro-condom bandwagon in South Africa, I’d welcome that too.

What does this mean?
– 5 out of the 10 required vaccines contain live viruses which will put vulnerable hospital patients at risk.- Staff and students who can think for themselves and who question authority will no longer be in the health system.
– The list of required vaccines is sure to increase – just as the childhood vaccination schedule is increasing. How many vaccines will be enough?

Ah, here we go, now begins the weasel-wording and the utter utter bullshit. Vaccines containing live viruses putting hospital patients at risk? Nope – where live viruses are used, they’re only given in extremely small degree to healthy subjects. Most commonly, inactive viruses are used for vaccination purposes, the immune system reacting to the dead virus, causing an immune response without risk of infection. No patients who are at risk are given a live vaccine – this is the whole point, in fact of herd immunity. Without vaccinating at-risk patients, the best way to prevent spread of the virus to them is to vaccinate everyone else, leaving the virus with no hosts to ride to the at-risk patients. Herd immunity protects.

Staff and students who can think for themselves and who question authority will no longer be in the health system? Nonsense. The only people who will be kept out of the health system are those who don’t believe in the efficacy of vaccinations – people who, therefore, have no business being in the health system. Similarly, staff who would ‘think for themselves’ and decide not to wash their hands between patients, or who would ‘question the authority’ of CPR techniques and make things up as they go along – those guys are also bounced right out of the hospital and onto the dole to. It’s not a question of authority, it’s a question of what we have proven works – like vaccinations.

The list of required vaccines is sure to increase – just as the childhood vaccination schedule is increasing? I damn well hope so. Let’s find a vaccine for everything we can, I say – AIDS, cancer, heart disease, MS, alzheimer’s, parkinson’s and every other thing out there that we could possibly vaccinate for. Vaccines save lives. It’s proven, it’s real, and no amount of hand-waving and weasel-wording will change that.

Who’s next?

– This policy was introduced to supposedly protect patients from infection from nurses and doctors.
– This despite the fact that there have never been any cases notified where unvaccinated hospital staff have spread infection.
– There have however been several cases where fully vaccinated staff have!

OK, a) Never a case of an unvaccinated hospital staff member having spread infection? Really? I’d put money on someone having caught swine flu from a hospital staff member, at least. It depends what infections you’re talking about. Maybe the case wasn’t notified, but we catch stuff from people all the time, and you can’t vaccinate everything (yet).

And b) most people of the age to work in hospitals will have been vaccinated – there was a time when people vaccinated their kids to try and keep them from dying of something preventable, a time before Meryl Dorey and the AVN did their best to plant seeds of doubt in parents’ minds, and did their best to see children go un-vaccinated. What’s more, someone who decides to go into health-care is far more likely to have grown up in a household where health-care is respected – and therefore far more likely to have been vaccinated in the first place. If most people are vaccinated, then of course you’re going to find it easier to cherry-pick cases that support your argument, especially if you’re just making things up out of whole cloth like the AVN are here.

Follow this to its logical conclusion…

– First we require hospital staff to be vaccinated to protect the patients.
– Then, we have to vaccinate the patients to protect the fully vaccinated staff.
– Next, teachers will have to be vaccinated to protect vulnerable vaccinated students.
– Then, the students to protect the teachers



Ignoring the fact that this is IN NO WAY A LOGICAL ARGUMENT (see steps one and two, for example), the level of scare-mongering going on here is really sickening. Just because certain at-risk areas (hospitals, which by definition deal with the sick and infirm – one of the sections of society which are the most likely casualties of viruses) vaccinate compulsorily, does not in any way logically lead to mandatory vaccination across the board. That’s not how logic works, that’s how scare-mongering works. What’s more, compulsory across-the-board vaccinations could never be introduced for the simple reason that not everyone can be vaccinated – some people are too ill or infirm, which is again why the need for herd immunity is so vital.

Death from compulsory vaccination

– A nursing sister from northern NSW contacted us after being forced to receive the MMR vaccine under threat of losing her job.
– She had been injured by a previous dose of Hep B.
– Was suffering from Chronic Fatigue and was not recovered.
– Immediately, she suffered a relapse and spent weeks off of work.
– Within 3 months, was diagnosed with cancer and had her lymph nodes removed. Biopsies showed measles virus in the tissue.
– Several weeks later, she passed away.

Oh noes! So this mysteriously-unnamed-and-therefore-non-confirmable-and-purely-anecdotal-nurse died after being injected with a vaccine? After. Not ‘due to’, please note. She was ill, she had a vaccine, she ‘immediately’ re-lapsed with a pre-existing condition, and months later developed cancer? The measles virus could be in the tissue, sure, I guess – the measles virus is in the vaccine (de-activated and dead, of course) so I could see how that could happen (if it did – note we don’t have a source). But the measles vaccine doesn’t cause cancer. At all. Nothing has ever suggested there’s even the merest hint of a causal link. At all. It’s just hand-waving and weasel-wording with a story that doesn’t even have a source, a victim who isn’t even named. If the nurse even existed, if Meryl Dorey isn’t lying, then it’s still 100% safe to say the vaccine did not cause the cancer.

Successful Workers’ Compensation Claims

– There have been several successful claims in NSW by nurses who have been permanently injured as a result of vaccinations they were told to have for their jobs
– Now that vaccination is compulsory, we will see a flood of these claims and an avalanche of injured workers – in an already overstretched and understaffed sickness system.

Again, no sources. Let’s, for the sake of argument, say this is true (I could go either way on this, the presentation is so filled with lies). Sure, there may be cases where nurses were left with permanent injury after having been vaccinated – if there was a pre-existing condition which reacted badly to a fever, which in this case was caused by the virus. We’ve seen that before, it’s rare in the extreme, but it can happen. Measles isn’t rare in the extreme, and permanent injury from infection definitely does happen. Note how we’re not told what the permanent injuries of the nurses who won their cases were. Measles has some really clear permanent injuries – death being one of them.

The second bulletpoint is even better – not only does it speculate un-foundedly on the future, but it then tries to push a point that to stop people getting preventable diseases will put strain on an understaffed system. But, of course, allowing them to go ahead and get these preventable ailments and to take unnecessary sick days off while they fight for their lives is totally fine for the system?

OK, I’m getting tired now, so I’ll shoot through the main points of the rest:

Page 10: Even if this is true, note the dates involved are 1994-1998. So, even if this case does go ahead, and even if there is any kind of positive outcome for the French authorities (and the lack of shockwaves throughout the international pharmaceutical industry and the lack of media coverage suggest it won’t), the AVN thinks we should throw out our babies with the bathwater and allow needless deaths from curable illnesses, based on side effects one particular Hep B vaccine that’s not been used in over a decade?

Page 11: Lovely leaflet, that. While you’re taking it in, it’s good to know that the ‘a donation is suggested but not required’. Well, I went to their website, and I urge you to try and download/obtain cards, addresses and labels without donating – you can’t. Instead, they have a regular checkout-payment system in place, with the word ‘donation’ liberally sprinkled within. Another lie, Meryl?

Pages 13-26: Here we have the AVN’s 10 reasons why vaccines are ineffective and harmful. There’s a lot to take apart here, including the standard list of ‘bad stuff’ that’s in vaccines – which is in equal parts wrong or irrelevant. I’ll leave more medically-trained minds to pick over what is and isn’t in vaccines, but my question is this – even if all of those additives (and worse) were in vaccines (and that’s not to say they are), so what? Vaccines have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to prevent illness, and have never at any point been shown in the slightest to be unsafe. Those facts are the ones that matter.

Page 16: Robert got vaccinated, then Robert got ill. Today I put on socks, and later my laptop crashed. Putting on socks did not crash my laptop; nothing in the wording of the page suggests Robert’s illness was caused by his vaccination. If the AVN could have gotten away with claiming it, they would have. Correlation does not equal causation. Ditto for page 18 with Joshua. Ditto page 19 with Luke. What’s more, without case notes and sources cited, these are nothing more than meaningless (yet tragic, if at all true) anecdotes, manipulatively included to tug at the heart strings. The AVN are using these children (if these children exist, and are ill) to guilt parents into decisions based on no data and no science. With such purposeful provocation and manipulation, mommy instincts are killing children the world over.

Pages 20 & 21: Note that the graphs are of mortality rates, not infection rates. Even if the graphs depict realistic and true numbers (and the overall credibility of this whole presentation is so low I wouldn’t assume that’s the case), the figures that show vaccination’s effects on infection rates clearly show that when vaccines came in, infections dropped dramatically.

Page 22: Doctors make money from vaccinations. Even if these figures are real, so what? Even if doctors were really being paid to give our children injections that prevent them from catching diseases, so what? Isn’t that their job? Isn’t that precisely what a doctor is – someone who gets paid to stop people dying of treatable ailments? Stop people catching the viruses and diseases, and you’ll stop the need for treating them – saving the health system a whole lot of money in the long run.

Page 23: Pharmaceutical companies have paid for almost all vaccine research to date. Sure. Tyre manufacturers have paid for all studies into tyre technology to date, too – but we still have safer and safer tyres, because if you stop people dying, your tyres tend to be seen in a favourable light, and more people will buy them. It’s in a pharmaceutical company’s best interest to produce a vaccine that works – the tyre company that produces a poor tyre that leads to a rash of road deaths isn’t going to do very well as a tyre company in the future.

Page 25: Selection bias. Anyone who phones an anti-vaccination hot-line, especially one that’s not advertised in mainstream media, is self-selected for their belief in the anti-vaccination cause. And note there’s no definition of what a ‘reaction’ is. Most vaccines have a mild reaction – a reddening around the injection site for a few days, a slight fever, soreness – but these are minor, and therefore wouldn’t need to be reported. These, most likely, make up the 90% of unreported reactions. Also, how the hell do you measure the reactions that don’t get reported?! If they’re not reported… they’re not reported.

Page 26: So horrific, evil and sickening I have to print it in full. I’m sorry:

Some childhood illnesses have beneficial aspects and therefore, prevention may not necessarily be in the best interests of the child.
– Measles- Called ‘Gift from a Goddess’ in Sanskrit, measles can help to mature the immune system, may help prevent auto-immune illnesses such as cancer, asthma and allergies in later life.
– Rubella- An extremely mild disease of childhood. If a woman gets rubella as a child, she develops life-long immunity which will protect her unborn child from the adverse effects of congenital rubella syndrome.

That’s right – measles is good for your child. The ancients say so, and they were experts in cutting-edge health-care. Forget the deaths from measles, rubella, pertussis – some of these dangerous viruses that lead to brain damage and death are gifts. The AVN are sick, manipulative motherfuckers, plain and simple, and it’s a wonder Meryl Dorey can sleep at night.

Next (Pages 27-30) we have the usual, trumped-up, debunked and generally walking-dead claim that vaccines cause autism. They don’t.

Pages 31-34 are even weirder – rather than suggest that vaccines cause cancer, the AVN instead intimate that vaccines contain known carcinogens (again, even if this were true, nothing to suggest it is, can’t trust this lying piece of shit presentation as far as you can throw it, etc etc). Then, and this is truly astounding, the AVN use some kind of simple wordplay to suggest that the vaccines themselves actually are cancer. Follow this, if you can:

Immortal Cells

When viral vaccines were first being produced, the process was extremely time-consuming and expensive. Viruses require living tissue to reproduce and therefore, a steady supply of live animals was required whose organs could be used to ‘grow’ the virus needed for the vaccine.

Once the supply of these animals began to dry up, a new method needed to be found. What the drug companies devised is a way to make cells ‘immortal’. In other words, they don’t go through the normal process of apoptosis which is a time of death and renewal/replacement by new cells. Immortal cells will never die and therefore, the same cell lines can be used over and over again to produce vaccines, making the production process cheaper and easier.

When a living being has cells which reproduce without dying, we call that CANCER

OK. So the vaccines have ‘cancer’? But not actual cancer, the disease, that grows inside of people and can kill them – no, the vaccines just have this version of cancer that the AVN has pulled out of Meryl Dorey’s weaselly, manipulative arse. At no point is the claim made that vaccines cause cancer, because they don’t. This is just hand-waving of the weirdest and most surreal kind, with the aim to stop children being vaccinated. Like a kind of semantic magic show, where the trick ends with lots of dead kids. Cheers, Meryl.

The presentation ends with a call to arms:

– Be informed – Be confident
– Know your facts and you can stand your ground.
– Believe in what you know to be true and nobody can budge you or make you feel guilty.
– Stand for something – or you will fall for everything!

If only people did know their facts – vaccines save lives, what the AVN are saying will cost lives. Lots of lives. And no amount of standing firm with the AVN will change those facts.

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  1. #1 by Eran Segev on September 3, 2009 - 02:05

    Thanks for brining this to our attention, Marsh. We can’t hope to convince the true believers, but we can help educate the young parents and otherwise not-fully-informed people so that they realise how safe and effective vaccines are. In this specific case, the fact that a significant proportion of nurses believe in all kinds of woo (including anti-vax propaganda) doesn’t help.

    Eran Segev
    President – Australian Skeptics

  2. #2 by Daniel Raffaele on September 4, 2009 - 08:37

    Thank you for this story. This level of propaganda is something we’ve come to expect from the AVN. It certainly is a blight on our country that this organisation exists and we will not stop until they are shut down.

    Daniel Raffaele
    Stop the Australian Vaccination Network

  3. #3 by Peter Tierney on September 4, 2009 - 09:11

    Thanks for the time you spent on this story. It’s time that we should be spending enjoying life, I know, but unfortunately people like the AVN exist, and we must counter these silly and deceptive ideologues whenever we come across them.

    Peter Tierney

  4. #4 by Jason on September 4, 2009 - 09:22

    Marsh, you are my new anti-antivax hero.

    I’ve been fighting with the AVN for some time now and I’m really glad to have yet another pommie on the case with us. If you’re ever in Sydney, I owe you beer.

  5. #5 by Phil Morton on September 4, 2009 - 09:42

    Initially i thought great, skeptics!…hmmm there are prob points to educate me here but here is some of the text : “deceitful, weaselly,ignorant, pseudomedical crap, insultingly and pathetically manipulative, gaudy, sensationalist, fear-mongeringly, utter utter bullshit, ” what happened to evidence based dialogue I was promised: this language is emotive and un-helpful. There is in my opinion a debate to be had here, emotive language, making the subject personal does not help to open it up. I maybe short on detail, but i remember a vaccine being withdrawn by the NHS/government because the “side-effects” or maybe collateral damage was assessed to be too “risky”. Prob. because of the reality and threat of insurance/legal actions would win and cost them a heap of money. Forget the children involved. Maybe we should be skeptical of people wearing white coats sometimes? The anti vaccination movement like this article can be over-emotional, some of it spokes-people may just be plain wrong, but that does not mean there is not an issue here. The language, i highlight above makes me emotional respond: this guy has made his mind-up; this is not an open debate, this is not a skeptic but another set of rules/uniform we must obey. Again: my loss there is prob good stuff in here, but IMHO, when isay he “makes his mind up”: that is what i think we all do;…..tbc

  6. #6 by Marsh on September 4, 2009 - 11:31


    I do take your point about the emotive language and how it possibly removes a sense of balance, and to be honest after I wrote it I did consider toning down the outrage and vitriol. The reason I left in the language as it was is that where it comes to the outright lies and propaganda of the likes of the AVN (who also believe that Swine Flu is a conspiracy and question the link between HIV and AIDS) are concerned, to give them an even playing field is to give them credibility and legitimacy.

    For me, if Meryl Dorey is willing to go on TV and tell the world that nobody dies of whooping cough, sitting in the same room as parents of a child who died of whooping cough, she and her organisation forego the right to legitimate debate – if they’re only bringing dangerous lies to the table, to engage them at a cold and clear scientific level is to give their point of view undue respect.

    I’m not denying there is room for debate over specific vaccines when there is real evidence to suggest there could be a negative side effect. However, making up reasons out of whole cloth based on nothing at all, and using those reasons to question the legitimacy of a vaccine that’s been proven safe time and time again, is just dangerous. Plus, the claims that measles is a gift from God and is actually beneficial to children? That’s what really boiled my blood.

    Sorry if the language and tone offended, but where false science directly leads to the deaths of children, I find it hard to restrain my emotions. Rest assured, normal reasonable-toned skepticism will resume in the coming articles, but this was something I couldn’t let the AVN get away with.


  7. #7 by Peter Tierney on September 4, 2009 - 13:45

    Hey Marsh,
    Given the subject matter, and the fact that we repeatedly bang our heads against a brick wall, I thought you were actually quite reasonable and polite. The AVN and their cohorts argue from some upper case paradise from where they can launch attack squads, spew forth and then retreat. They have the integrity of someone strapping on a vest.
    Regards again,
    Peter Tierney.

  8. #8 by Tabs on April 10, 2010 - 12:13

    Hi, just read this after getting a link from Peter T.
    Just wanted to correct you on something. (sorry!)

    You state that “the measles virus is in the vaccine (de-activated and dead, of course)”

    Actually the measles virus in vaccines isn’t dead, it is a attenuated (partially live) vaccine. Still as safe as can be (can never say 100% of course however) but this statement will get you a lot of ‘LULz’ from anti-vaxxers.

    Great post otherwise 🙂

  9. #9 by Tabs on April 10, 2010 - 13:50

    I was wrong- Jason provided the link lol! (credit where it’s due)

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