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Dr Gannon, AMA President, Declines Invitation to Answer Questions About Vaccination

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On the 6th of October at 11:45 AM, the AVN sent a letter to 4 public health officials who had been critical of our up-coming VaxXed tour of Queensland.  These 4 individuals had suggested that the VaxXed screenings should be banned or boycotted and that no venue should allow us to show this documentary or members of the public be permitted to watch it.

The four were:

Mr Cameron Dick, Health Minister for QLD
Dr Michael Gannon, President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA)
Dr Bill Boyd, President of the QLD AMA
And Dr Jeannette Young, Chief Medical Officer of QLD

Cameron Dick, Michael Gannon, Jeannette Young, Bill Boyd
Cameron Dick, Michael Gannon, Jeannette Young, Bill Boyd

Less than an hour later, at 12:24 PM, I received a long and detailed response from someone named Simon Tatz who was replying on behalf of Dr Gannon.

I have pasted Mr Tatz’s response below and have replied to the relevant sections in blue italics.

Due to the length of both the original email from Mr Tatz and the AVN’s response, we will be posting this information over the next 2-3 days in total. We welcome your input and would like to suggest that if you feel so inclined, you may wish to write to these individuals yourself by clicking the links to their names.

They especially need to hear from those whose families have been injured or killed by vaccines. For some reason, they appear to believe you don’t exist.

To date, we have not received any response from the other three public servants who were invited to attend and sit on the Q & A panels. We will, of course, keep you updated on any responses received.

For those who would like to attend any of these up-coming events, here is the link where you can obtain further information.

Dear Ms Dorey

I refer to your invitation to the AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, to attend a screening of VaxXed. Dr Gannon has asked me to respond on his behalf.

Dr Gannon will most definitely not be attending.

In relation to the so-called film you mentioned, Dr Gannon previously pointed out in the media that Andrew Wakefield is a discredited charlatan.

There has been a lot of conjecture about Dr Wakefield and whether he has been discredited. What Dr Gannon may not be aware of is the fact that the lead clinical gastroenterologist in the 1998 Lancet Study, Dr John Walker-Smith, was exonerated by the High Court in the UK. The judge in that case, Justice Mitting:

“…called for changes in the way General Medical Council fitness to practise panel hearings are conducted in the future saying: “It would be a misfortune if this were to happen again. …The judge said the GMC panel failed to address whether Prof Walker-Smith had been doing research or simply investigating symptoms to help treat children. There had been “inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion”, he said.”[1]

Mr Walker-Smith and Dr Wakefield were accused together. The difference was, Mr Walker-Smith was able to get legal representation through his insurance company – Dr Wakefield was not. Mr Walker-Smith’s license to practice medicine was reinstated and his name was cleared. The biggest injustice was that this decision was never extended to Dr Wakefield’s case and he has continued to be attacked unfairly and incorrectly. Dr Wakefield is not a ‘discredited charlatan’. Rather, he is the victim of those whose financial interests were threatened by any questions raised about the safety or the effectiveness of vaccination.

Dr Gannon added that nothing good can come from the public screening of this film, which was being spruiked by Australian anti-vaxxer social networks.

Dr Gannon does the thousands of families across Australia who support the AVN and whose children and other loved ones have suffered as a result of a vaccine injury or a death from vaccination, a great wrong. I’m sure this was never his intention!

These families have been coming to VaxXed screenings around Australia in their thousands and have told the stories of their families because we will both listen to and help them. They have found that in most cases, their doctors will do neither. Instead, they minimise the harm that has occurred to their families or outright deny it.

These are not ignorant or negligent people. They are caring, well-informed Australian adults who have questions about a medical procedure. They look to Dr Gannon as the head of the AMA and someone they respect to provide them with some answers.

Instead, through you, Dr Gannon appears to be saying that these families don’t exist, don’t matter and should not be listened to. I do hope that you have misunderstood the good doctor’s intent and his message?

Dr Gannon’s role is to protect public health and screening this film could potentially damage thousands of children by fostering a scare campaign that has no medical evidence base.

 This is an interesting point of view. How did you or Dr Gannon determine that the information provided by the AVN and included in the documentary, VaxXed ‘has no medical evidence base’?

Some of the top scientists from around the world, including immunologists, paediatricians, toxicologists, child psychologists and research scientists contributed to this documentary. I don’t think they would have done so had they not had medical evidence. In addition, Dr William Thompson, commonly known today as the CDC Whistleblower, was one of the 5 authors of the infamous DeStefano study published in 2004. Dr Thompson claims that he and his team were ordered to destroy data and evidence showing a large and statistically significant link between administration of MMR vaccines before the age of 3 and the development of autism in children – especially children of African-American descent.

Dr Gannon’s concern about fraud in scientific studies, as evidenced by his statement about Dr Wakefield above, is laudable though misplaced. Why then won’t he support the proof that another scientist, Dr William Thompson, has provided of outright fraud, leading to millions of children being unnecessarily brain-damaged by vaccinations the CDC told them were safe when they most assuredly were not?

In regard to censorship, Dr Gannon told the ABC:

“I’ve heard his arguments about censorship, and it’s against my natural instincts to ever argue against censorship, and I believe, in most circumstances, of giving adults the opportunity to make informed decisions.  Sadly, what you’ll see when you screen a film like this, you’ll see confirmation bias.  You’ll see people who want to believe that there’s something wrong here, and that will just get in their head.  There are people who – for some strange reason – like believing in conspiracy theories.”

“I think in this film – and again I haven’t seen it, I’ve got better things to do with an hour and a half to be honest – but I think that what is so unfair on this is not only the potential carnage that might befall unvaccinated kids, but again those families around Australia that struggle with the hardship of dealing with children afflicted by autism spectrum disorder, blaming them, setting them up, saying that they did something to injure their child’s brain development.  I think that is so unfair.”

 It is hard, nay, it is impossible to critique something which you have not personally seen. You could not write a book review for something you hadn’t read, review a restaurant you’ve never eaten at nor give an opinion about a film if you haven’t watched it.

Again, we invite you to attend one of these screenings, free of charge. Then, if you are still of the same opinion Dr Gannon, we would welcome your informed criticism of this film. But until you actually see the documentary, I’m afraid it is hard to take what you say on board as being either informed or accurate.

Dr Gannon said that it was an ill-considered decision to screen this film in the first place.  The concept of free speech carries certain responsibilities, and screening a film that is being used to undermine evidence-based immunisation programs and protecting children against harmful and fatal diseases is not a responsible action. 

Again, it is apparent that Dr Gannon is not speaking from a position of knowledge about this film. VaxXed is not being used to undermine vaccination – it is being used to hold corrupt medical officials at the CDC to account for the cover-up they have conducted. This crime has led to innocent children being permanently injured. I’m sure that Dr Gannon would never want to see harm come to anyone – child or adult – and feel that he would benefit greatly from basing his opinion of VaxXed on what is actually contained in the movie rather than what he has heard it contains.

As you would be well aware, the AMA has been very outspoken about this misleading so-called documentary. As Dr Gannon told the media:

“Various web blogs and films like Vaxxed have the potential to undermine our national programs of immunisation. The anti-vaxxer campaign can make vaccine hesitant parents believe that their concerns or fears have been confirmed and choose not to vaccinate.  The tragic outcome may be having a child ending up in an intensive care unit, possibly with life-long complications, from a vaccine preventable disease.

The AVN believes that Australian parents are intelligent people who, given accurate information on all aspects of a medical procedure, are very capable of making the correct choice for their family regarding a range of issues from nutrition to education to medical procedures including vaccination. We also believe that, were the medical authorities to consider having a respectful conversation with these same parents rather than trying to browbeat them or censor what they should or should not hear, see or read, the current adversarial relationship between families and doctors would change to one of mutual respect and understanding. 

I am convinced that Dr Gannon wants nothing more than to have such a relationship with the Australian public. All of us – those who believe strongly in the necessity of all vaccines on the current schedule and those who don’t – care deeply about the health of children. I would say that Dr Gannon is every bit as passionate about children’s health as the AVN is and as any parent in Australia is. It saddens me, therefore, to see him being quoted as saying such things about Australian parents and I invite him to please join with these same parents and to listen to and answer their legitimate and genuine questions.

We’re very concerned about false information being fed to people and sadly, what we see in the area of vaccination is confirmation bias of conspiracy theories. The film Vaxxed was made by a doctor who’s been de-registered because he was found to have fraudulently made up scientific material.

As stated earlier, Dr Walker-Smith was completely cleared of all accusations made against him and Dr Wakefield by the GMC. It is perplexing why these misstatements continue to be made in the light of the High Court decision in the UK more than 5 years ago? In essence, Drs Wakefield and Walker-Smith were discredited by an organisation which was itself subsequently discredited by the High Court. In light of this information, do you still stand by your statements regarding Dr Wakefield?

He was working in a wellness clinic in Cuba, now he’s dabbling in short film. That’s not where you get your health information from. You get it from serious scientific bodies like the Health Department and from your local GP.

I am unclear about why Dr Wakefield’s current career path should call into question his medical knowledge? In general, it has been the experience of the AVN that parents who have studied the issue of vaccination by reading medical journal articles and texts and by speaking with a broad range of health professionals can be far more knowledgeable about this topic than the average GP. So a medical specialist like Dr Wakefield, who has spent decades working on this one particular topic, would be expected to have a great deal of useful and scientifically-based knowledge. 

Vaccination represents the public health triumph of the last 50 years: diseases like measles, smallpox, polio, no longer damage and maim members of the community.

The measles vaccine was introduced in Australia in 1969/1970. By the time the vaccine was used here, deaths from measles had declined by over 99%. Smallpox vaccination had not been routinely used for decades in Australia prior to the 1960s so I am unsure why you’ve declared this as a victory for vaccination in the last 50 years. In fact, looking at data from countries where mass smallpox vaccination was routinely used, it is apparent that the largest epidemics with the highest rates of mortality and morbidity were in those communities with the highest levels of smallpox vaccination. Likewise, polio vaccine started in Australia in 1955. By the time the vaccine came in, polio outbreaks were already on the decline. A subsequent redefinition of the disease led to a further precipitous drop in the number of notifications.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/health-17283751

Part 2 of the AVN’s response can be read here

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