“I never have and never will harass or hurt a grieving parent” – Meryl Dorey

I have been sitting on this upsetting story for over two and a half years. For reasons of delicacy and confidentiality this story has remained untold, until now.

As most of you would already be aware, the McCaffery Family has been the target of vilification from the Australian Vaccination Network, and its supporters, ever since their baby Dana died from Pertussis (whooping cough), in March 2009. It started with Meryl Dorey, the then President of the anti-vaccination organisation, asserting that Dana did not die from Pertussis. The word “supposedly” has never had a more sinister connotation. The vilification and abuse continued, with AVN admins, members, go-to academics, and supporters all chiming in to ensure the grief was compounded. On February 14 2010, Dorey posted lies about the McCafferys and the circumstances surrounding Dana’s death. The post even appeared on the execrable whale.to site, known for its Holocaust denialism, among other raging conspiracies.

On the day before Dana’s funeral, in March 2009, Meryl Dorey rang the Director of Public Health at the then North Coast Area Health Service, contending that Dana did not die from Pertussis. She even had the temerity to claim that the Director had lied to the McCafferys about the content of that phone conversation, and that it was in fact the Director who was the real person harassing the McCafferys.

Let’s remember that Dorey made her intent clear to her followers in 2009:

AVN Dorey Yahoo love to get a look at Dana medical records
Skip forward to July 30 2010, and Dorey wrote a hurtful and inaccurate blog post defending her actions whilst absolving herself of all responsibility for the real hurt done to the McCaffery Family. Toni McCaffery wrote an excellent response which Dorey has never acknowledged. Why any family should ever have to go through what the McCafferys have and, then, be subjected to a torrent of abuse and vilification…I just can’t comprehend this.

There is one passage in Dorey’s blog post which I want to highlight. In defending herself, and those around her, Dorey states:

I never have and never will harass or hurt a grieving parent and anyone who knows me – or knows anyone in my family – would say that without question.

Meryl Dorey. July 30 2010. No Compulsory Vaccination blog

Meryl Dorey. July 30 2010. No Compulsory Vaccination blog

I want you to watch this short video, all the way through. It is taken from Channel Ten’s late news, uploaded on August 13 2010:


On September 2 2010, Chris Kokegei also appeared on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program. This video is not available, but, the immunisation and prevention message was the same as in the video above. This father lost his son, Michael. He doesn’t want any other families to go through what his family is still going through. This is the most common reaction from similar families who have lost a child. They advocate for the protection of our community. They are advocates despite their own grief. They want to alleviate suffering.

This was the public response on the Australian Vaccination Network Facebook page:

AVN Facebook moderator. September 2 2010. Mocks the death of this child.

AVN Facebook moderator. September 2 2010. Mocks the death of this child.

You read that right. The death of a child from Chicken Pox is an “April Fools” joke. This is how anti-vaccinationists treat the grief of others.

Now remember: it is now only two months from when this comment was made:

I never have and never will harass or hurt a grieving parent and anyone who knows me – or knows anyone in my family – would say that without question.

After the Sunrise interview Chris Kokegei received a phone call from his Sunrise contact. They had received a phone call from a woman who claimed that she was also the parent of an injured child, and that she would very much like to talk to Chris. Chris gave the okay for Sunrise to pass on his mobile phone number to the mystery caller, not expecting anything untoward.

The woman rang. She had an American accent and she introduced herself (Chris cannot precisely recall the name given), saying that she was from the Australian Vaccination Network. He had no idea who she was, or what the AVN was about. The woman immediately conveyed her concerns to Chris that he was advocating something which was dangerous and ineffective (the Varicella vaccine), and questioned him as to whether he should be doing this. His advocacy was going to harm more children, he was told. When Chris told her she does not have the evidence to back up her claims, the woman told him to go to the AVN website to find all of the information. The woman also told Chris that his son must have been weak, to have succumbed to such a harmless disease. These things are a matter of survival of the fittest, he was told.

Chris was in shock. He stated that he didn’t want to hear any more of her stories, and not to contact him again, and he hung up. He was very upset, confused, and agitated that someone would call him with this sort of  callous misinformation, considering he had just appeared on television appealing to parents to ensure they protected their children so that they, too, would not have to suffer the tragedy his family had suffered. He conveyed, very clearly, to the woman that he had no interest in speaking to her again.

The woman rang again, two days later. Chris hung up the phone a second time.

I’ll leave it to you to gauge the impact a phone call like this would have.

Think about it for a while.

A grieving parent. Hurt. Harassed. By an anti-vaccination campaigner. Why? Because he was advocating for the safety of all of our children.

On May 5 2013, Chris told his story again. It takes a gutsy person of high character to do what he is doing.

From Channel Ten’s Meet the Press:


For Dana. For Michael. For the McCafferys. For the Kokegeis.

About reasonable hank

I'm reasonable, mostly.
This entry was posted in abuse, anti-vaccination dishonesty, australian vaccination network, AVN, meryl dorey, Pertussis, Varicella and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to “I never have and never will harass or hurt a grieving parent” – Meryl Dorey

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