Australian Vaccination Network president Meryl Dorey has defended her controversial group against claims it is opposed to vaccination, biased and provides information that runs counter to medical opinion.
Ms Dorey said the NSW-based group, which will hold a seminar in Geraldton tomorrow, aimed only to provide another view.
“The AVN is not anti-vaccination. We simply believe in a fair go,” she said.
“We think medical decisions should be made with full information and that vaccines should be fully and properly tested for both safety and effectiveness before they are released in Australia — something which is currently not done.”
Ms Dorey courted controversy last year when she posted a comment on the AVN facebook page likening vaccination against the wishes of a parent to rape.
But yesterday she said she unreservedly apologised over the statement.
“It was not well thought out and I said the wrong thing,” she said.
“That can happen to anyone.”
Ms Dorey said AVN was made up largely of concerned parents and did not pretend to offer medical advice.
But she said parents were misinformed if they believed they had to vaccinate their children.
The mother-of-four said one of her own children suffered an adverse reaction to the measles vaccine but was now recovering.
The child was hospitalised at the time, with symptoms including obstructive sleep patterns, ‘failure to thrive’ and breathing difficulty.
Ms Dorey said the group was concerned that information about the negative effect of some vaccines was not circulated.
Ms Dorey said children could die from diseases and vaccinations.
“I know a child that has died from a disease and many more that have died from vaccines that are being ignored — not always children, some are adults,” she said.
Ms Dorey said the government paid for vaccines, but needed to put more money into researching their safety and effectiveness.
The Uniting Church in Perth last year refused to let AVN use one of its halls and the State Library came under fire when it let the group use one of its buildings instead.
The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing also stripped the group, based at Bangalow near Byron Bay, of its charity status after authorities found its information was biased and that its website did not state that its claims were not medical advice.
Ms Dorey said the church meeting was cancelled because the church had been contacted by rival group Stop the AVN and did not want to get involved in a controversy.
She said the AVN would go to the Supreme Court this month to appeal the removal of its charity status.
She denied claims the group was involved with religious organisations that have an anti-drugs stance.
CAITLYN PATMAN and GAVIN BOX
See today's Geraldton Guardian for the full report.