As Byron Bay Council defends appearance of professional antivaxer, unimmunised child airlifted to Brisbane with tetanus

On March 15 2017, a deliberately unimmunised seven-year-old child suffering from tetanus was airlifted to Brisbane. From ABC North Coast’s Bruce MacKenzie, today:

A northern New South Wales doctor says a seven-year-old child who is in a critical condition after being diagnosed with tetanus was not immunised.

The girl was initially treated at Lismore, before being transferred to Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital on Wednesday.

Tetanus is a potentially fatal disease which is transmitted by bacteria in soil, and can enter the bloodstream through minor wounds.

On March 15 2017, immunisation experts and advocates emphasised the danger posed to the NSW Northern Rivers by professional anti-vaccination entrepreneur, David Avocado Wolfe, in his sold-out talk given at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall, on March 16 2017 (last night). From ABC North Coast’s Joanne Shoebridge and Samantha Turnbull:

Pro-vaccination campaigners are concerned David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe, a self-described “rock star of the superfoods and longevity universe”, will exacerbate vaccine scepticism during his visit to northern New South Wales this week.

Mr Wolfe will speak in Mullumbimby, which has the lowest vaccination rates in Australia, on Thursday night.

The internationally renowned conspiracy theorist has more than 10 million Facebook followers and has been outspoken in his stance against vaccination in the past.

The Byron Bay Shire Council runs the Mullumbimby Civic Hall:

Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters spokeswoman Alison Gaylard criticised the Byron Shire Council, which has representatives on the board of the Mullumbimby Civic Hall, for making the venue available.

“The council also runs immunisation clinics, so it’s a bit ironic they’re willing to give this man and his opinions a platform,” she said.

The Council’s representative, Mark Arnold, added the following:

Council’s director of corporate and community services Mark Arnold said the council did not have a position on vaccination.

“Our halls are managed by local committees and there is currently no list of who can or can’t hire the public venues,” he said.

On March 16 2017, whilst noting that he is personally “pro-vaccination”, and noting that the council needs to review its venue hiring policies, given the community concern, Deputy Mayor Basil Cameron defended businessman Wolfe’s paid appearance as a matter of “freedom of speech.” From ABC North Coast, with Joanne Shoebridge:

But, not all Byron Bay councilors are nonchalant about allowing council-run premises to be used by anti-vaccination businesspersons.

In today’s The Northern Star, Councilor Paul Spooner was blunt about this use of the premises:

Cr Spooner said he would have made an attempt to stop last night’s event, if he knew about it earlier.

“I was quite concerned that council had let out the Mullumbimby Civic Hall to David Wolfe because I think it’s quite irresponsible.

“By not vaccinating, we’re really opening the door to illnesses that have caused a lot of death in the past and I think this generation has forgotten that.”

Cr Michael Lyon said he was “pro-choice”.

“I don’t believe in forced vaccination,” Cr Lyon said.

“(The Mullumbimby Civic Hall) is not council-funded.

“It’s run by the council, but the council does not subsidise it.

“I don’t think we’re saying we support anti-vaccination if we’re letting the hall, that is a long bow to draw.”

Cr Spooner said that response was a “cop out”: “It’s a council facility, the council has put a board in place and and recently put in air condition.”

Not all Byron Bay councilors are, however, as amenable to rational thought as Cr Spooner:

Jeannette Martin said she supported David Wolfe’s visit and she was concerned about the Federal Government’s move towards increasing vaccination rates through the newly announced No Jab, No Play program.

“Noone was forced to go (to David Wolfe’s talk). I am pro choice,” Cr Martin said.

“I think there’s a lot of research coming out that makes the (vaccination) program questionable and if we follow the money the people who are doing well are the pharmaceutical companies.

“I have concerns about the extent of the program and have extreme concerns about forcing vaccinations, I think people need to do their own research.”

This anti-vaccination post also appears on Cr Jeannette Martin’s Facebook profile:

In a show of their regard for “freedom of speech”, late yesterday, Wolfe event organisers banned all media from the Mullumbimby event. From ABC North Coast’s Facebook page:

MEDIA BAN AT DAVID ‘AVOCADO’ WOLFE EVENT IN BYRON SHIRE

A media ban has been imposed on the David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe event in #Mullumbimby tonight.

ABC North Coast reporter Samantha Turnbull had her ticket refunded this afternoon and received a call from the event’s public relations manager saying media would be banned from attending the event.

Mullumbimby has the lowest vaccination rates in Australia.

*Note, the original tickets were purchased at the journalists’ expense and not provided by the event organisers.

We send our best wishes and thoughts for the recovery of the little girl who had no choice in any of this.

______________________________

About reasonable hank

I’m reasonable, mostly.

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2 Responses to As Byron Bay Council defends appearance of professional antivaxer, unimmunised child airlifted to Brisbane with tetanus

  1. Remember when some anti-vax activists in Byron Shire actively suppressed medical advice that could have prevented kids from getting tetanus?
    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/avn-bars-doctors-posts-on-website/news-story/a0fc41d34eb953668fadd7d53bb21308

  2. @advodiaboli says:

    Basil Cameron appears to be quite ignorant as to the dynamics at play with respect to the anti vaccination lobby. Purporting to be “on the other side of the argument” gives the impression there is in fact a valid argument. The antivaccinationist conspiracy is no more based in reality than Wolfe’s claim that a blend of herbs is demonstrably more effective in treating cancer than chemotherapy.

    More so whilst defending free speech has a noble tone to it, in this instance it is entirely invalid. Misleading and deceiving an audience about immunisation, disease prevention and disease management is harmful. The right to free speech must never be abused in this way. The anti-vaccine mantra is a particularly malignant force against public health.

    As noted above an unvaccinated 7 year old girl is in a critical condition due to tetanus infection. It’s difficult to imagine her parents made the decision to forego immunisation without being exposed to the bogus yet potentially fatal anti-vaccine message.

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