Infamous anti-vaxxer doco coming to Australia (updated)

Vaxxed publicity still

Word has reached Australian Skeptics that the anti-vaccination propaganda film Vaxxed is slated to be shown at the Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival (CLIFF) in early October. By all reports the organisers are resisting requests for a change of heart, using the argument that ‘the public have a right to know’. We note that one of the partners of the film festival is the Mount Alexander Shire Council that promotes immunisation in the local community.

You can find a thorough overview of this issue over at Reasonable Hank, and an audio report is featured on episode #414 of the Skeptic Zone Podcast.

Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe
is a 2016 film that alleges a cover-up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA, of a purported link between the MMR vaccine and autism. It is directed by the discredited anti-vaccine activist Andrew Wakefield, whose license to practice medicine in the United Kingdom was revoked due to ethical violations related to his fraudulent research into the role of vaccines in autism.

The main claims in the film have also been discredited. For example, here’s what paediatrician Dr Paul Offit had to say about it in a comment piece for Hollywood Reporter:

Vaxxed contains several statements that are painfully inaccurate. For example:

• Children who receive the single measles vaccine instead of MMR don’t develop autism. Amazing, given that unvaccinated children can develop autism. Does this mean that the single measles vaccine prevents autism?

• Vaccines are not tested prospectively in placebo-controlled trials or with other vaccines that are given at the same time. In fact, all vaccines submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for licensure are subjected to this kind of testing.

• Rates of autism are rising exponentially; it is now estimated that by 2032 about 80 percent of boys will be on the autism spectrum, essentially creating a new normal. On the contrary, the latest evidence shows that rates of autism in the U.S. have plateaued.

While the film is not in wide release, it has been travelling across the USA with the “Vaxxed Bus” and shown at local meeting halls.

Update: Bendigo Advertiser reports that the film has actually been pulled from the festival:

The CLIFF committee said it was “a sad reflection on the state of Australian democracy that legitimate questions cannot be raised in a public forum without inciting a campaign of ill-informed and dishonest intimidation”.

Further Update: It is understood that a new screening of the film was planned for a week before the original screening. This too has now been abandoned.

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