A year ago today, I read an article that was warning the public about a political party, called Health Australia Party. This article warned people to avoid voting for this party, as they are an anti-vaccination group. This post, on Facebook, was promptly flooded with comments from people arguing the distinction between ‘anti-vaxxer’ and ‘pro-choice’. However, in my opinion, they are the same thing. The argument of pro-choice is that they are not skeptics; they are simply advocating a choice. But a choice between herd immunity, and potential risks to society seems illogical. Reading through these comments, I became very angry. Angry, that people with degrees in natural healthcare were stating that natural supplements are a viable replacement for medically researched and tested vaccines. In my mind, I put an ‘anti-vaxxer’ or vaccination skeptic in the same boat as climate change skeptics, anti-feminists, and people who are ‘anti-Muslim’. All of these people have the same thing in common – they cherry pick convenient statistics, quotes or archaic rules, to justify their point of view. Climate change and vaccination debates both have the same two sides – on one side, scientific and research based evidence, versus opinions, that seem to thrive on social media pages, often private or closed groups, where fear is spread. However, should anyone promote a ‘pro-vaccination’ point of view, it seems the followers of these groups come out of the wood work, ready to make a variety of unsubstantiated claims. The classic claim is that someone read a book, or researched on the Internet, and based on this information, which is usually based on someone else’s opinion, as a justification to try and recruit other likeminded people. However, I would question, unless you have a medical degree, you are unqualified to comment or debate this issue.
A quick search on Facebook for vaccination brings up an array of anti-vaccination closed groups. It was alarming to read the disclaimers on these pages, in which they have a ‘troll’ authentication process, in which you must supply proof that you haven’t vaccinated your children. One page also suggests the creation of a new Facebook profile, so that your friends won’t know you are part of an anti-vaxxer group. Surely, a few alarm bells should be ringing, if this level of effort is required to be a part of such a group. Surely, someone who is pro-choice must understand that they are in the minority, and that they have enough self-awareness to understand that these groups do not have any scientific evidence to back up their claims.
While I believe in freedom of speech, it is vital that people are educated before spreading dangerous information, that in this case, has the potential to harm, or to even kill people – and not just people who aren’t vaccinated. Un-vaccinated people have the potential to bring disease in to the herd population of immunised people, and therefore, we are all at risk. Up until today, I have only written what I would be considered 'safe' blog entries, reviewing television shows or concerts. However, the reason why I want to write a blog is to encourage debate. Maybe I should no longer play it 'safe' !!
About the author
Observations and opinions of popular culture, covering everything from music, film, television, people and other things.