© 3AW693, Australia
The medical community has called for the anti-immunisation lobby to wind back its efforts after figures showed the number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children has increased six fold.
The Academy of Science, supported by the Australian Medical Association, is today launching a 20-page booklet to explain the benefits of immunisation and try to debunk common myths.
Neil Mitchell has said that in his non-expert view, the actions taken by parents who refuse to vaccinate their children is 'tantamount to child abuse'.
President of the Australian Vaccination Network, Meryl Dorey told Neil Mitchell the government and media had worked to 'actively suppress' information regarding the risks immunisation posed, and said she supported people's right to make their own choice.
"We believe that everyone has the right to make an informed decision about vaccination, and that includes having access to both sides of this issue," she said.
"We absolutely oppose any form of compulsory vaccination."
Ms Dorey said whooping cough vaccinations had reached their highest level, yet the number of reported cases of whooping cough had also reached a crescendo.
"We have more whooping cough now than we had since before the vaccine was added to the mass vaccination schedule in 1953," she said.
"And the reason for that, according to studies that are coming out around the world, is that the vaccine is no longer effective against whooping cough because the disease has mutated and it may actually make more susceptible to contracting whooping cough."
Ms Dorey said her organisation's database had recorded 25 deaths which had occurred as a direct result of immunisation since 1998.
"Not one of these reactions was ever reported by the doctor involved," she said.
However President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Steve Hambleton, told Neil Mitchell the benefits of immunisation far outweighed the risks.
"There are dangers; Like anything, there are side effects though the most common side effects are quite minor," he said.
Dr Hambleton said he had seen children experiencing convulsions as a result of immunization, which he said was a 'very major concern', but said the vaccination-related morality rate would be very low.
"Compared to getting the wild virus, those side effects...are far, far less than what you would get if you didn't have the vaccine on the market," he said.
Dr Hambleton said the fact many illnesses had been eradicated by immunisation was leading to a lax approach to vaccinations among some parents.
"Parents have never been exposed to kids with measles for example," he said.
"Seeing a child carried into a general practice with measles, I haven't seen one for 20 years, but the kids are really sick, they have a really high temperature and they've got a significant risk of actually getting a secondary infection like pneumonia."