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12 Dec 2013

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA welcomes the Australian Academy of Science’s new Science Q&A app as an important addition to the immunisation evidence base to help parents make informed decisions about the health of their children.

The app  launched today in Melbourne by Dr Hambleton, Academy President, Professor Suzanne Cory, and world-renowned immunologist, Professor Sir Gustav Nossal  is a companion to the highly successful Academy booklet, “The Science of Immunisation”, launched jointly by the Academy and the AMA last year, which has been circulated to more than 7,000 GPs nationally and accessed by hundreds of thousands of people via the Academy website.

Dr Hambleton said it is important that parents have easy access to quality scientific evidence to help them make informed decisions about immunisation.

“Immunisation has saved millions of lives around the world and in Australia,” Dr Hambleton said.

“It has brought great comfort and security to the health of the community and the Australian way of life.

“Many serious life-threatening diseases are now rare because of immunisation, but we cannot be complacent about public health.

“It is vital that we continue to provide families and the community with the highest quality scientific evidence on immunisation.

“The Academy’s new app has been researched and developed by Australia’s leading scientists.

“It is an important new resource that will help dispel the non-scientific myths and misinformation circulated by anti-vaccination groups in the community.

“The app features strong scientific evidence, clear explanations, and easy-to-understand language that will reassure people, including conscientious objectors, about the safety and efficacy of immunisation.

“It is another useful tool for community GPs, who are the public face of immunisation for Australian families.

“Parents should always speak freely with their family doctors about any concerns they may have with their child’s immunisation program,” Dr Hambleton said.

Australian Academy of Science President, Professor Suzanne Cory, said that the Academy is strongly committed to ensuring that every Australian has the opportunity to base their decisions on the best available evidence.

“This app puts the best scientific evidence at parents’ fingertips, giving them confidence that they’re making the best decisions for their child,” Professor Cory said.

Internationally acclaimed immunologist, Professor Sir Gustav Nossal, said it is important for all parents to have their children immunised.

“Not only does this safeguard the children from serious and potentially fatal infections, but high immunisation coverage at community level ensures that viruses and bacteria do not have enough fertile ‘soil’ on which to grow, so that risk of infection is minimised by ‘herd immunity’”, Professor Nossal said.

Dr Hambleton said that 2013 has seen strong action by governments to increase Australian immunisation rates, including:

  • in November 2013, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal ordered the anti-vaccination Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to change its name after finding it was likely to mislead parents into thinking it provides fair and balanced information;
  • of the decision, the then NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said “… this is about being open and upfront about what you stand for, not hiding behind a name which could mislead the community about a very significant public health issue … the time has come for the AVN to find a name which reflects its anti-vaccination stance ...”;
  • in August 2013, the Australian Government introduced new rules that require children to be ‘fully immunised’, be on a recognised immunisation catch up schedule, or have an approved exemption to be eligible for the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement; and
  • in July 2013, the Australian Senate supported a motion from the Australian Greens urging the AVN to disband, condemning its ‘harmful and unscientific scare campaign that is helping undermine national immunisation rates’.

For details on how to access the new app, click on the Science Q&A icon on the Australian Academy of Science website at www.science.org.au


12 December 2013

 

CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
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Published: 12 Dec 2013