HCCC confirms report – AVN potential “risk to public health”

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission has confirmed a report widely publicised in the last two weeks that the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) “provides information that is inaccurate and misleading”. It adds that the antivaccination organisation’s failure to include a notice on its website regarding its true purpose and the nature of its advice “may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety”.

The Commission’s investigation of the complaints focussed on the material presented by the AVN on its website which established that the site:

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.

On this basis, the Commission recommended to the AVN that it should include a statement in a prominent position on its website to the following effect:

  • The AVN’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination, in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere.
  • The information provided by the AVN should not be read as medical advice.
  • The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

The Commission says it recognises that it is important for there to be debate on the issue of vaccination, “However, the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading.”