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Published by Kate Squires

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Published by: Kate Squires on Oct 10, 2012
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Page 1 of 22 © 2012 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved.
Just The Shot...........................................................................................................................................................2LETTERS - More information needed on whooping cough vaccine.........................................................................6Vaccine benefits beat costs, says judge. .................................................................................................................7LETTER - No penalty...............................................................................................................................................8SOLDIERS SPARED. ..............................................................................................................................................9Nursing mothers `facing more complaints'.............................................................................................................10Mistake `threat' to State campaign.........................................................................................................................11FED - GROUP TO SEEK INJUNCTION AGAINST GOVT CAMPAIGN................................................................12Legal bid to change vaccine campaign..................................................................................................................13Prick Flows The Tears As Sheepish Take A Jab At Measles ................................................................................14Mother sues on school needles..............................................................................................................................15PARENTS SUE OVER NEEDLES.........................................................................................................................16NSW - Protesters ask government to ease vaccination pressure..........................................................................17Parents `not Told Vaccination Facts'......................................................................................................................18Needles, not knives................................................................................................................................................19Unhealthy logic in GP pay rise...............................................................................................................................20LETTER - GP CASH REWARDS UNHEALTHY....................................................................................................21LETTER - DOCTORS GLAD TO IMMUNISE.........................................................................................................22
 
Page 2 of 22 © 2012 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved.
Just The Shot
NEWS AND FEATURES; AGENDA
Just The Shot
Megan JamesMegan James Reported And Co-Produced The ABC-TV Science Unit Documentaries On Vaccination AiredOn September 23 and October 3.2,513 words18 December 1996Sydney Morning HeraldSMHH9EnglishCopyright of John Fairfax Group Pty LtdImmunisation is a topic which gets many people hot under the collar, as MEGAN JAMES discovered whenshe presented a Quantum program on the subject. Here, she writes about the need for a wide-ranging debateon the benefits and risks of childhood
vaccination
.ON Monday the ABC was due to make a regular rebroadcast of a two-part Quantum documentary originallyscreened 11 weeks ago. It didn't. For the first time in Quantum's 12 years, ABC TV management withdrew aprogram from the schedule because of the controversy it caused.The program was about a medical issue that involves every
Australian
, but which many health authoritieswould prefer was not debated: the benefits and risks of childhood
vaccination
.The Quantum team behind the program knew it was a divisive issue. We were careful to exclude the views of those who advise against
vaccination
. We balanced both sides of the debate in air time, and the emotionalweight of the case studies discussed. And yet dozens of furious letters followed from doctors andheavyweight institutions such as the
Australian
College of Pediatricians.One letter, from Dr David Vaux of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, ended with:"
Vaccination
is not an issue that needs to be debated."From the medical establishment's perspective, Vaux makes good sense. Why have a debate about
vaccination
when, says Vaux, "next to clean water,
vaccination
is the most effective health measureavailable"? When it's rid the world of smallpox and Australia of polio? And when 118 Australians died lastdecade from diseases that vaccines may have prevented?The simplest response is that vaccines have side effects. And Australia's health authorities do not deny this.The debate is about how serious these side effects are and how often they occur.The problem in Australia is that anyone who raises concerns and questions about side effects is lumped inwith those who assert that vaccines kill and injure more children than they protect.But a long way short of saying "don't vaccinate", there are some well-founded and moderate criticisms of  Australia's current
vaccination
schedule that consumers deserve to hear.The first debate is about exactly what information people should be given on side effects at the time of 
vaccination
.In 1992, after a woman was blinded by an operation intended to improve her sight, the High Court ruled thatdoctors have a duty of care to warn of all side effects of all medical procedures even if the occurrence is rare.Many doctors argue that this is an unreasonable expectation. Dr Roy Robins-Brown, from Melbourne's RoyalChildren's Hospital, says he does not think that doctors need to warn their patients of very rare risks."Few people can conceive what this means or how to balance this against the risk of not taking the vaccine,"he says.Often the explanation goes no further than an assurance that the benefits in protecting their child fromdisease far outweigh any risks.But vaccine critics such as Maureen Hickman, the president of the
Australian
Council for ImmunisationInformation, say that's an insult to parents' intelligence. "It's clear from the hundreds of parents who write to
 
Page 3 of 22 © 2012 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved.
us that a large percentage of the population is told nothing at all about the risks of the vaccine most oftenassociated with serious side effects, DPT," says Hickman.DPT is the "triple antigen" diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus
vaccination
, the whooping cough or pertussiscomponent of which is linked to most side effects.But it's not just a question of no information, it's a question of which information. And how different medicalprofessionals interpret the information. A Commonwealth Department of Health booklet for parents, Understanding Childhood Immunisation, statesthat the "most careful long-term studies show there is probably not a link between DPT and brain damage".But overseas, one of the world's most respected medical bodies has found that there probably is a linkbetween DPT and brain damage, albeit limited. The study was by the US National Academy of Sciences'Institute of Medicine (IOM), a group that advises the US Government on health issues. The IOM's 1994review of the huge British National Childhood Encephalopathy Study states that "the balance of evidence isconsistent with a causal relation between DPT and the forms of chronic nervous system dysfunctiondescribed in the ... study in those children who experience a serious acute neurological illness within sevendays of receiving DPT vaccine".The IOM says the risk of "chronic nervous dysfunction" (problems ranging from learning disabilities to severebrain damage to death) is rare but measurable.This is not to underplay the seriousness of whooping cough. In 1994, Australia had about 4,000 cases. Manychildren suffer terribly: long coughing fits ending with the characteristic "whoop" as they struggle for breath. All medical authorities say whooping cough causes brain damage at a far higher frequency than the vaccine.Pneumonia can be a complication and, in very young infants, the disease has a death rate of between one in300 and one in 2,000.With many suspected side effects, the fairest thing to say is that the jury is still out. Yet
Australian
medicalauthorities tend to interpret this as "not guilty".Dr Gavin Frost, a senior adviser to the Federal Government on vaccines, says: "I don't believe it (DPT) doescause permanent damage ... because that's been the experience in Australia and many countries before,during and after that analysis by the IOM."Certainly, children have chronic brain damage; some of those have received vaccines and some have not,and I find no evidence which leads me to believe that more have it after the vaccine and therefore possiblydue to it." A Newcastle clinical immunologist, Dr David Sutherland, says: "I don't recognise rheumatoid arthritis as aresult of hepatitis B
vaccination
."Such medical professionals don't want to raise what they see as unwarranted fears. That may lower immunisation rates further, leading to more disease and deaths than vaccines could ever cause, they argue.But the danger of this line of thinking is that doctors may fail to investigate possible side effects.Next week, a group of concerned parents and health professionals will present the Federal Health Minister,Dr Wooldridge, with 150 reports of what they say are injuries to their children, mostly from DPT. While morethan a million children are vaccinated each year in Australia, this is the biggest set of suspected adversereactions ever given to the
Australian
Government -all previously unreported.The cases are mostly of children with serious disabilities, ranging from epilepsy to severe brain damage.They have been compiled since 1991 by the
Vaccination
Awareness
Network
.Stacey Chapman, of Milperra, says her son Rhys, now 5, became epileptic after his 18-month DPT, HIB andpolio vaccinations on May 7, 1993. "He had no signs of any ill health before the shots, but by midnight on thesame day he was hot, frothing at the mouth and he turned blue. My husband called an ambulance and wetook him to Bankstown Hospital."Rhys has been on medication to control his seizures ever since and Chapman now sees a GP whoadministers vaccines one at a time.The parents, from lawyers to farmers, say they were not warned of any serious side effects of vaccines. Allsay the medical professionals they approached ruled out any connection between the change in their childand the vaccine. The doctors neither filed a medical report nor sought an investigation.

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