More than 60 senior health and medical researchers at the University of Wollongong have issued a “united” statement to urge all parents to ensure their children are fully immunised.
“Researchers across the university want parents to have the best clinical and scientific evidence to enable them to make informed decisions about what is best for their child,” the statement says.
While it makes no reference to the recent controversy over a PhD thesis approved by the University and which criticises immunisation policy, the timing of the statement is opportune.
Prof Alison Jones, Executive Dean of UoW’s Faculty of Science Medicine & Health and the lead signatory of the statement, told Australian Skeptics that she had heard about the thesis by known anti-vaccination campaigner Judy Wilyman some time ago – “before the recent discussion”.
“We are trying to redress the balance – not specifically in response to the thesis. We’re not trying to give it oxygen or create controversy.”
She adds that “From what I’ve seen of the thesis, it doesn’t represent the views of a science evidence-based approach.”
“The evidence is clear”, the statement says. “Immunisation protects children and saves lives. While individuals may express personal opinions, the international scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports immunisation to protect children from infectious diseases.”
Dr Heather Yeatman, UoW Professor of Public Health and President of the Public Health Association of Australia, said immunisation was one of the best choices parents could make. Parents should be confident that immunising children is best practice.
“Along with healthy foods, hand washing and a loving environment, immunisation is one of those basic things we can do to safeguard our children’s health,” she said.
Wilyman’s thesis has been criticised for supporting long-debunked claims about immunisation.
Prof Jones, stressing that she was not speaking on behalf of the University, agreed that in her faculty, “the scientific content [of any PhD thesis] is closely monitored and assessed.”
We understand that the issue is being raised at the highest levels of the University.