A few nights ago a strange thing happened. I was tagged in a Facebook post at about 10.30 at night. You can see the image to the left. At first I was a bit confused. What on earth was this, could it be possible that a public hospital was promoting an anti- vaccine group? Within 24 hours, this photo was on the news, in the paper and both the government and local hospital were scrambling to respond.
An old friend who is currently pregnant had been to our local hospital for an ante-natal check up and been given an information flyer that focused on a range of different topics and the hospitals suggested contacts to locate advice. Strangely they listed the best source for information on vaccination to be the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN). Now unless you have heard of this group before you are probably going to wonder what all the fuss is about. Well, herein lies the problem. The Australian Vaccination Network is, in fact, completely anti-vaccination. They have named themselves the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) in an attempt to sway people and most importantly to effect search engine results. So when a mum looking for information, googles a simple question about a vaccination and possible side effects or adverse reactions they end up getting information that is notoriously biased and not based on reliable scientific data. It had me wondering, had QLD Health turned anti-vaccine?
The NSW government recently forced the AVN to change it’s name as the Department of Fair Trading found the name to be intentionally misleading. Minister For Fair Trading Anthony Roberts said that “…the Australian Vaccination Network does not present a balanced case for vaccination, does not present medical evidence to back-up its claims and therefore poses a serious risk of misleading the community.” So what on earth was the hospital doing recommending them as the best source of information for parents? Is Qld health now anti vaccine? Has the world gone completely mad?
Confused by why she had been referred to such a group my friend tagged a few mum’s asking what we thought. I was shocked and shared the photo- asking the hospital to “please explain??” and that’s when the power of mums and social media collided. By the next morning the image was all over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with mum’s asking questions like “Qld health anti vaccine???” Many were employed in the health sector and began contacting their colleagues, the hospital, the health minister and also the media.By lunchtime the hospital had removed the flyer from circulation and launched an investigation into how it was created in the first place. By that night the story had hit television news and the government had weighed in too.
The good news is that mum’s wanting balanced information about vaccination will now be getting it from their local hospital. The great news is that this demonstrates the fact that you should never mess with mums. I love how we are such a passionate group of people. So if you see something, hear something or believe in something – share, speak and YELL! Other mum’s will get behind you and you can inspire change!
Speaking in support of vaccination I have found myself in the firing line more than once. But unlike the AVN I do not hide the fact that I come from a medical family background. I believe in science and have faith in medicine. You may have an alternate belief to me and that’s fine. I hope you can still appreciate this story for what it is, a story about the power of the little person speaking up and being heard.