We often wonder how it comes to pass that so many nurses and midwives end up being anti-vaccine activists. How does someone who goes through a whole university course of evidence-based learning end up rejecting the evidence behind immunisation? It boggles the mind, it does.
On November 16 2015 the 7 News Queensland Facebook page posted a whooping cough health alert:
HEALTH WARNING: A Whopping Cough alert has been issued for Brisbane.
DETAILS: The Metro South Public Health Unit has warned of an increased number of whooping cough (Pertussis) cases recently diagnosed in the greater Brisbane area, with a number of babies afflicted with the disease.
The following vaccinations are recommended:
– The standard childhood immunisation program (started from 6 weeks of age) including the four year old booster dose, followed by a Year 8 booster as part of the School Immunisation Program
– An additional vaccination at 18 months to boost immunity
– All pregnant women at 28 weeks of each pregnancy, provided free of charge
– A booster for those close to infants or young children if it has been 10 years since last receiving a dose.
It’s important to see your GP early if there were concerns about a family member having whooping cough.
For more information, contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or visit: http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/14/33/150/Whooping-Cough-Pertussis
Good stuff, you would think. The public needs to know about whooping cough outbreaks. Only in the last couple of days we have seen two separate stories, including confronting videos, regarding babies who are suffering from the hideous disease. The two mums who recorded the videos – Rebecca Harreman and Jade Lewis – deserve our thanks for capturing just how awful this disease can be. They are wonderful public health advocates. They are the sort of public health advocates you would hope all evidence-based health practitioners would aspire to be.
Well. Not quite.
On that 7 News Brisbane Facebook thread we find these rabid anti-vaccination comments:
Christine Palmer Unvaccinated children do not cause childhood illnesses.
Christine Palmer I am an educated health professional who has read far more widely than you could imagine. Do the reading yourself before you accuse others of ignorance.
Christine Palmer I have done everything for my child Melissa. My beautiful 22 year old daughter has never been vaccinated and is rarely sick. Vaccinations are not just harmful for a range of reasons, they are insidious in their impact on natural immunity. We have been taught that germs and illness are to be avoided but they’re extremely important to the strengthening of our immune systems. A recent study even revealed that people who hand wash their dishes have stronger immunity than people who use dishwashers. That was scientific research …
Okay. We’re intrigued. Christine Palmer claims to be an “educated health professional who has read far more widely than you could imagine.” Luckily we can find out immediately what she is talking about. This is what happens when you hover over her name:
A “Lecturer in Nursing at Flinders University”. Palmer’s about page tells us more:
Lecturer in Nursing · Adelaide, South Australia
Have returned to teaching and research in mental health nursing. I provide Clinical Supervision for other mental health nurses and teach Clinical Supervision too.
Queensland University of Technology
Diploma of Applied Science – Nursing Education · Master of Nursing · Bachelor of Nursing ·Brisbane, Australia
University of South Australia
PhD · Adelaide, South Australia
You read that correctly. “PhD.” Dr Christine Palmer is a lecturer in mental health nursing at Flinders University. She is the course coordinator, no less:
I joined the School of Nursing and Midwifery 16th June 2014. I moved to Adelaide from Brisbane where, for the past 6.5 years I worked as a credentialed mental health nurse in private practice. This work was collaborative with General Practitioners and Psychiatrists and also autonomous in the provision of mental health care to people in the primary care setting, largely within their homes.
In the past I have held academic positions with the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane and with Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand. I am passionate about mental health nursing as a specialty and also as a necessary skill for undergraduate nursing students in all areas of practice.
Credentialed Mental Health Nurse; DipAppSc-NEd; BAppSc-Nursing; MNursing; PhD
Co-ordinator for NURS9539 Mental Health Nursing Practice I and NURS9533 Primary Health Care for Mental Health.
I will also be involved in the teaching of NURS1007 Dimensions of Physical and Mental Health.
Oh boy. I’ve got nothing. Except this:
Please read this information. This is an excellent summary of the facts.
Update November 18 2015
Comments under this blog post:
7 News Brisbane Facebook thread:
Christine Palmer Just by the way, my well informed views on vaccination are my own and not the views of my employer. As an academic I have the right to express my views in a public forum as a private citizen 🙂
Flinders University All Flinders staff have the right to advise their view publicly on any matters of public interest provided it is clear they do so in their capacity as private citizens. Where this is not clear, staff are asked to ensure that any ambiguity is removed by emphasizing that comments are made in their private capacity. Flinders University is committed to evidence-based teaching. The University expects its lecturers to adhere to the endorsed curriculum which is based on accepted scientific standards. The University is confident that this expectation is being fulfilled in its Nursing program.
We can see that Christine Palmer doubles-down on her anti-vaccine claims, and shows absolutely no contrition for them. The reader can see that Palmer’s Facebook profile still shows her Flinders University affiliations, even after the Flinders University places its disclaimer underneath her comments:
Palmer then refers to her academic position whilst making a Big Pharma Gambit:
Christine Palmer I have assignments to mark. I suggest you do some reading yourself … beyond the research funded by pharmaceutical companies.