Warning issued about AVN

A PUBLIC health warning has been issued by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) about the Bangalow-based Australian Vaccination Network (AVN).

The warning, issued yesterday, came after the AVN failed to comply with a recommendation by the HCCC to put a statement on its website in a prominent position stating its purpose was to provide information that was against vaccination and it should not be considered as medical advice.

The HCCC also recommended the AVN advise visitors to its website that any decision about immunisation should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

The HCCC said while it was important there was a debate on the issue of vaccination, the AVN provided information which was inaccurate and misleading.

The AVN's failure to provide a warning on its website meant members of the public may make improperly informed decisions on vaccination and therefore it posed a risk to public health and safety, the HCCC warning said.

The HCCC investigated the AVNafter it received two complaints about the organisation, the first from Ken McLeod, of Stop the AVN (SAVN), and the second from Toni and David McCaffery, of Lennox Head, who lost their daughter, Dana, to whooping cough at four weeks old in March last year. Earlier this month, the HCCC released a report which found the AVN provided information about vaccination that was incorrect and misleading and quoted selectively from research to suggest vaccination may be dangerous.

AVN president Meryl Dorey yesterday said the HCCC had no jurisdiction over the AVN and that its legal representatives had written to the HCCC advising them of this.

“The whole investigation has been handled in an extremely irregular manner,” Mrs Dorey said.

In a media release, the AVN said it was ‘taking advice on future steps to defend against the unsubstantiated allegations that our information is anything but complete, unbiased and fully-referenced from the medical literature'.

The AVN, which describes itself as a ‘consumer advocacy and vaccine safety watchdog', has accused the HCCC's investigation of being biased.

Mr McLeod said the AVN's attack on the HCCC was ‘deplorable'.

He said SAVN would ask the HCCC to consider an injunction to take the AVN to court to compel it to comply with the recommendations.

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