On the eve of the release of the latest vaccination coverage statistics for 2016 – the first since commencement of ‘No Jab No Pay’ – it’s timely to reflect on a significant revelation which emerged during the Senate inquiry into the law.
Last year represented a watershed in vaccine policy and law in Australia. For the first time, the Commonwealth parliament enacted a law mandating vaccination for receipt of childcare subsidies and Family Tax Benefit A supplement. In addition, two states enacted so-called ‘No Jab No Play’ laws, mandating vaccination for enrolment in childcare in the case of Victoria, and providing childcare operators the option of refusing enrolment to unvaccinated children in the case of Queensland.
The claimed imperative for these laws was built on three shaky foundations:
(1) the vaccination rate is below the 95% rate required for herd immunity; and
(2) the vaccination objection rate is skyrocketting; and
(3) previously eradicated / eliminated diseases are undergoing resurgence as a result.
Only the first two of these will be addressed here. The third will be addressed in a subsequent post.
Vaccination rates are higher than that recorded by the ACIR
According to Immunise Australia, for the year ending 2014, Australia had an overall vaccination rate of 92.08% and a conscientious objection rate of 1.77%. There was a third group of children, representing 6.15%, who were either partially vaccinated or unvaccinated for other reasons.
If only one truth emerged from the sham Senate inquiry into ‘No Jab No Pay’ it was that Australia’s vaccination rate is likely to be significantly higher than that recorded by the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR), and that it’s entirely possible that the vaccination rate in Australia may already have been above the magical 95% threshold claimed to confer herd immunity at the time all three draconian vaccination laws were enacted.
In its submission to the Senate inquiry into ‘No Jab No Pay’, the AVN provided some evidence of this from a recently published study, which had found that apparent lower vaccination uptake in inner-urban areas of Australia may be attributable to reporting error.
In addition, a representative of the Public Health Association Australia – which also opposed ‘No Jab No Pay’ – gave evidence at the public hearing that reporting error is likely to be widespread. It was submitted that, following a targeted data-cleaning exercise of South Australian vaccination records held by the ACIR, it had been discovered that out of a total of 886 Aboriginal children aged under seven years who were identified as not fully vaccinated, 395 of them were in fact fully vaccinated, revealing an error rate of approximately 45% (page 39). This is consistent with estimates provided by Associate Professor Julie Leask of a recording error of between 18% and 50% (page 45).
A more comprehensive data-cleaning program of the ACIR has been in progress since late last year due to the commencement of ‘No Jab No Pay’ on January 01. If the suggested error rate of 45-50% is anything to go by, then once this program is complete, we are likely to see vaccination rates climb significantly, at least on paper, independent of any real changes in vaccination uptake arising from the three draconian vaccination laws.
In addition, we would also expect there to be a small, but real increase in vaccination rates arising directly from ‘No Jab No Pay’. This is because ‘No Jab No Pay’ didn’t just target conscientious objection to vaccination by abolishing this right. It also extended the vaccination requirement to “children” up to the age of 19 years. Prior to ‘No Jab No Pay’ the vaccination requirement applied only to children aged one, two and five for the purpose of Family Tax Benefit A supplement, and children under the age of seven for the purpose of Child Care Benefit and Rebate. For this reason, there is little doubt that pro-vaccination parents will be submitting their children to catch-up vaccination in the event they have fallen behind, in order to retain eligibility for these benefits. It was never in dispute that ‘No Jab No Pay’ would successfully prompt pro-vaccination parents to get their children up-to-date when they had fallen behind. What was in dispute, was the alleged need to abolish conscientious objection to vaccination.
Of course, none of this is good news from our point of view; the true reasons underlying an increase in vaccination rates will count for nought when it comes time to evaluate ‘No Jab No Pay’. Amid much back-slapping and political posturing, the solitary message will be that ‘No Jab No Pay’ has been successful in increasing vaccination rates, regardless of the fact that little to none of this increase was as a result of abolishing the right to conscientiously object to vaccination, or that most of the increase was an artificial one, largely attributable to data-cleaning of the ACIR. As the government no longer collects vaccine objection data there will be no capacity to refute this either. The government will be lauded for protecting the public health, and public purse. It stands to pocket a projected $500 million in savings from the measure over the forward estimates, savings only made possible by the malicious and expedient targeting of a voiceless minority.
Alas, any celebration about the increase in vaccination rates will be short-lived, because outbreaks of so-called vaccine-preventable disease will still occur with the same regularity they always have. The response will be to raise the herd immunity threshold – again – and the blame game will commence anew.
Regardless of how much vaccination rates increase, we can safely put to bed any thoughts we may have had of restoring the right to object to vaccination via political means, and instead focus on the only real means by which this right will be restored, that is, through legal channels.
The AVN recently announced its intention to challenge ‘No Jab No Pay’ in the High Court, and is calling for sponsorship. Please consider sponsoring the AVN in its quest to restore the right to object to vaccination.
There is no valid scientific evidence supporting the theory of vaccine-induced herd immunity
During 2015, we were subjected to an unprecedented level of vaccination propaganda via pharma-sponsored mainstream media and the medical cartel, much of which focused on the thoroughly discredited theory of vaccine-induced herd immunity and the alleged necessity to achieve the threshold of 95% vaccination coverage in order to achieve this end. The following information was provided in the AVN’s submission to the Senate inquiry last year.
The popularly claimed 95% vaccination threshold to achieve herd immunity is merely a spurious invention, one which has been the subject of frequent upward revisions over the years every time a vaccine failure has been identified.
Even if one was to accept there is a herd immunity effect arising from vaccination, it would be impossible to quantify in such discrete percentage terms, and would obviously vary by disease. It would also need to consider vaccination coverage rates in adults as well as children over seven years of age. Reported vaccination coverage rates pertain only to children under seven years of age.
The plethora of studies purporting to demonstrate the existence of a herd immunity effect arising from vaccination are entirely invalid due to an exclusive reliance on data tainted by diagnostic bias. Diagnostic bias is the increased tendency of doctors to consider vaccine-preventable disease in unvaccinated children, and conversely, a decreased tendency to consider such a disease in a vaccinated child.
This bias is a well known phenomenon in epidemiology, and in fact, is the basis for the gold standard of testing known as the ‘randomised double blind placebo controlled trial’. In these trials the doctor (as for the patient) is not permitted to know the true treatment status of the patient – hence the term double blind – because of the likelihood that such knowledge will prejudice their diagnosis giving an artificially positive result to the treatment efficacy.
Glanz et al argue that “it is possible that physicians are more likely to make a diagnosis of varicella in children who are unvaccinated than in children who are vaccinated. This type of diagnostic bias would lead to an overestimate of the risk associated with vaccine refusal.”
In addition, many of the vaccines on the current vaccination schedule are not even theoretically capable of producing a herd immunity effect anyway; this much at least, is uncontroversial.
A US-based immunologist recently published an open letter to legislators, wherein she identifies vaccines that are not theoretically capable of producing a herd immunity effect but rather, are only capable of offering protection to individual vaccine recipients. These include Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Tetanus, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, HIB, and Hepatitis B.
In other words, at least six of the vaccines mandated by ‘No Jab No Pay’ and ‘No Jab No Play’ are accepted as not being capable of contributing to a herd immunity effect, if indeed such an effect was possible in the first place.
Vaccination objection rates are stable
A recently published study has found that overall vaccination objection rates were largely stable between 2002 and 2013, and that the small increase in the rate of registered objections, coincided with a decrease in unregistered objections.
Registered vaccine objection affecting children aged one to six years increased from 1.1% in 2002 to 2.0% in 2013. But our study findings suggest that rates of unrecorded vaccination objection have declined proportionately over this period. This may be because more parents have become aware that registration of objection preserved eligibility for family assistance payments, which rose in value over this period. Combining the registered and unregistered objection figures, the overall rate in 2013 stands at around 3.3% of children in Australia aged one to six years. This figure is close to that found in the last national survey of parents of incompletely vaccinated children, conducted in 2001.
These findings are significantly at odds with claims made in a press release by former Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison during April 2015 in announcing ‘No Jab No Pay’.
While vaccination rates in Australia have increased since the Childhood Immunisation Register was established by the Howard Government in 1996, vaccine objection rates for children under the age of seven have also increased steadily, especially under the conscientious objector category. More than 39,000 children aged under seven are not vaccinated because their parents are vaccine objectors. This is an increase of more than 24,000 children over 10 years. The Government is extremely concerned at the risk this poses to other young children and the broader community.
This isn’t to say that if vaccination objection rates had really increased that the government would then have been justified in enacting its draconian law; the right to freedom of belief, conscience and religion is protected by human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, a right which can and should be accommodated by a progressive and pluralist society. Rather, it’s important to highlight the dubious propaganda which is being employed by government in its pursuit of vaccine mandates by casting vaccine objectors as a clear and present danger to the public health due to our alleged rapidly multiplying numbers.