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Woodford Folk Festival “Vaccination Saves Lives” Campaign MEDIA RELEASE

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Vaccination advocates urge Woodfordians, “Look to the heavens for inspiration during Dorey speech”
Following two weeks of intense public pressure, the Woodford Folk Festival has cancelled a solo presentation by Meryl Dorey of the Australian [anti] Vaccination Network. In its place will be a panel discussion between Ms Dorey and Professor Andreas Suhrbier, head of the immunovirology laboratory at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. The discussion will be moderated by Dr John Parker, a veteran of Doctors without Borders. This is an important concession on behalf of the organisers, but does not go far enough. Ms Dorey should never have been booked to appear at the Festival. Certainly, once organisers realized a public health warning had been issued against Ms Dorey’s organisation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, and that the AVN had its fundraising authority revoked by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing for 23 breaches of the act, Ms Dorey’s invitation should have been withdrawn. While unhappy that Ms Dorey will still be speaking at Woodford, the Stop the AVN Facebook group, a loose-knit consortium of concerned citizens, scientists, doctors and nurses, decided to use a little humour in order to have ‘the last word’. The group has hired an aircraft to fly over the Woodford Folk Festival site during the two hours surrounding Ms Dorey’s appearance. Between 1.45 and 3.45pm (Brisbane Time) on Thursday, 29 December, the plane will tow a banner with the message: VACCINATION SAVES LIVES. Volunteers will be on the ground to hand out flyers after Ms Dorey’s appearance in the Blue Lotus tent at 2.15pm. The flyer addresses some of the myths about vaccination and counters them with facts. Despite her claims to the contrary, Ms Dorey is not an expert, nor does she hold any qualification, in medicine, science, statistics or immunology.

There is no debate about the safety or efficacy of vaccines within the mainstream medical and scientific communities – that is, among experts in the field. The allegation that vaccines are not safe or effective is discredited by scientific evidence and relates to a wider set of new age conspiracy theories involving concerns about ‘one world government’, the Illuminati, chemtrails and AIDS denialism. This is the kind of ideology which informs Ms Dorey’s creative reinterpretation of the scientific data. Ms Dorey plays down this aspect of her beliefs in her public appearances, explaining to her Yahoo group on 29 July, 2009: “While we are already seen as rabid, idiotic fringe-dwellers by so many in the mainstream, it does our argument no good at all to bring in conspiracy theories which, though we may subscribe to them, are unprovable.” (Emphasis added.) While almost every medication has the potential to create adverse reactions in certain individuals, the risk of a reaction more serious than a little localised pain and swelling and a slight fever after a vaccination is exceedingly small. The medical and scientific overwhelmingly agree that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any small risk.

Available for interviews:
The “Stop the AVN” group – National – Peter Bowditch - 0419 219 659 Ken McLeod - 0466 261 666 Queensland (Sunshine Coast) – rys tevenson - 0403 752 278 or 07 5445 7270

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What will the banner say? VACCINATION SAVES LIVES How long is the banner? Unknown. The maximum number of characters that can be towed is around 30, our message (including spaces) is 23. When is the flight going to be at Woodford? From 1.45pm to 3.45pm (Brisbane Time) on Thursday, 29 December - half an hour on either side of the vaccination forum (Blue Lotus speakers’ tent – 2.15pm). How high will the flight be in the vicinity of Woodford?

Around 500ft above ground level. For Sydneysiders this is the height light aircraft fly past Bondi beach. Elsewhere if you live near a small airfield, this is the height aircraft will make their final turn to line up with the runway when coming in to land. How close will the aircraft come to the festival? The aircraft will remain within sight of the festival at all times, although this could be several kilometres away. It will make nearer passes every few minutes. Will the aircraft disrupt the festival? No, and that is not our intention. The company says it has towed banners at the Woodford festival in the past. We have been assured that engine noise at ground level will be moderate and probably hard to hear over the festival itself. We hope if anything it will provide a spectacle to festival goers, and pass on a message we hope they'll consider. What kind of aircraft is it? A Bellanca Citabria Is there any reason the flight may not go ahead? The flight will not go ahead in bad weather (low cloud and/or thunderstorms). We will confirm with the operators once an aviation area forecast is available on Thursday morning. What did the flight cost? $2,800, or less than 1% of the Australian Vaccination Network's audited revenue for 2010/11(!) How many people contributed? 34 Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN) members including students and pensioners contributed amounts from $15 to $300