Anti-vax nurse has ‘conditions’ placed on registration

Joanne Howard, a nurse and fervent anti-vaccination campaigner, has had conditions put on her nursing registration by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The conditions include that “The Practitioner is to undertake and successfully complete a program of education, approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia [NMBA] and including a reflective practice report, in relation to evidence based practice.” She must also provide proof that any place she works is aware of the conditions.

A ‘condition’ aims to “restrict a practitioner’s practice in some way, to protect the public”. It can be placed on a practitioner’s registration for disciplinary reasons, such as because a National Board has found that a practitioner has departed from accepted professional standards.

Howard has for some years espoused her anti-vaccination stance on a series of Facebook pages, defying the NMBA’s position on vaccination. That position, issued in a statement last year, is that the NMBA “recognises the Australian National Immunisation Handbook 10th edition as providing evidence-based advice to health professionals about the safe and effective use of vaccines and the public health benefits associated with vaccination. The NMBA supports the use of the handbook by registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives who are giving vaccines.”

Among Howard’s Facebook posts – covered in depth on the Reasonable Hank website – are her support for views such as that herd immunity is a “flawed science” and that vaccines cause SIDS and autism. She has also promoted the dangerous product Black Salve.

She has said a mother who had shared her story about her baby contracting whooping cough – so as to warn other parents of the danger posed by the disease – was a “silly mumma”, derided those who dare criticise her as “a bunch of arrogant pricks”, and shared a range of sites claiming vaccination conspiracies.

It is not as if she is making her stance known only on closed Facebook pages. Howard has said that “I have made the educated conscientious choice to not consent to a medical practice. The hospitals I work at are well aware that I have made this decision and it is not an issue.”

The NMBA says in last year’s statement that “The NMBA has become aware that there are a small number of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives who are promoting anti-vaccination statements to patients and the public via social media which contradict the best available scientific evidence. The NMBA is taking this opportunity to make its expectations about providing advice on vaccinations clear to registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives.”

The suggestion that it is a “small number of nurses” is contentious, as there have been a large number of complaints made to AHPRA against nurses espousing an anti-vaccination stance. Howard herself has said that “there are a lot of us out there”.

6 thoughts on “Anti-vax nurse has ‘conditions’ placed on registration”

  1. It’s good to see she is being dealt with, though I doubt she will accept science. It might have been better to deregister her.

    1. We have a shortage of nurses – why deregister her for giving her opinion about vaccinations. I don’t know what you mean about science but even today there is still whooping cough and a lot of other disease that were meant to be eliminated amongst our population from vaccines, what makes it worst is that some of the children who have died were vaccinated. From when vaccinated started, there has been a drastic decline in the vaccinated disease, but this could also be from the fact that hygiene measures have been more stringent, and not necessarily the efficacy of the vaccination.

      1. First- Why deregister her for giving her opinions? Because her opinions are dangerous nonsense which encourage parents to dangerous practice and which add misinformation to the public dialogue. She should not hold any sort of position which could contribute to an appearance of authority on the subject, when what she is claiming is the direct antithesis of best practice, and devalues the field.

        Second – nobody said that the vaccine was perfect, and in fact the whooping cough vaccine declined in efficacy when we moved from the whole cell vaccine to the acellular vaccine — something that was done because the acellular vaccine has fewer side effects. However, there is absolutely zero doubt in practice that vaccines are what made disease incidence decline, and if you don’t understand why, then ask and find out. We know HOW they work (http://www.livescience.com/32617-how-do-vaccines-work.html), and we know that they DO work through clinical trials of efficacy and through direct observation of vaccinated populations and disease rates.
        http://nrvs.info/faqs/evidence-vaccines-work/

        Third – of COURSE some children who were vaccinated still got diseases and died. Because vaccines are very seldom 100% efficacious. And, even when they are 99% efficacious, that still leaves 1 out of every 100 children that it doesn’t work for. And when the vast majority of children are vaccinated, but disease is nevertheless brought into the community by an unvaccinated vector (which is almost always what happens), then those vulnerable kids find out the hard way that despite their best efforts, it was really herd immunity that was protecting them.

        And finally, hygiene did not make any particular step change for each disease which dropped — but oddly enough, you can see diseases start to drop the year a vaccine gets introduced.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_vaccines#20th_century

        And….hygiene does not make a blind bit of difference to airborne diseases like measles and pertussis.

        1. Excellent, well informed response that I totally endorse, being an RN who does their best to keep up with & use clinical best practice guidelines

        2. I’m not a frequenter of this misnamed website (‘Australian Conformists’ would be more appropriate), but I did stumble across it whilst researching other subject matter, however, I feel compelled to respond to some of your comments.
          Whilst I would give you ten out of ten for emotion & religious fervour, I would give you zero for truth in content.
          Your first point isn’t really a point, it’s just your opinion (which, of course you’re fully entitled to… in our ‘free & open society’), I might add that Ms Howard is equally as entitled to her opinion as you are to yours, and in addition, hers is also equally as valid. However, since it’s simply opinion, it therefore isn’t worthy of any further comment.
          Your second & third points are quite simply wrong. You are emphatic, with “zero doubt” that vaccines are what generated the decline in disease, this is incorrect, to pick one example such as pertussis (since you made mention of it), the death rate in the USA was 11.2 per 100k in 1920, 5 per 100k in 1930, 2.1 per 100k in 1940 and 1 per 100k in 1950, the pertussis vaccine was introduced on a widespread basis in 1948 & didn’t make a blind bit of difference to the already existing decline. The reason for this decline is improved hygiene, education & other environmental factors.
          You incorrectly stated the diseases “started” to decline upon the introduction of vaccines, as can be clearly observed from the above and widely available information that pertussis in this case was already in decline prior to the introduction of the said vaccine. This decline is also visible with many other infantile diseases (such as measles), a fact that is easily verifiable if one cares to look with an unbiased desire for truth.
          If an individual believes that a vaccine us ‘safe & effective’, then let that individual get the vaccine as they see fit, & if an individual disagrees & abstains, well they should be free to make that choice free from vilification. This is normally where the ‘herd immunity’ card gets played, but upon examination the herd immunity hypothesis becomes nothing more than an irrelevant joke, an arrow in the quiver of religious dogma.
          I’ll finish by mentioning that I know of no other industry where a manufacturer of a product is protected by government from litigation in the event on an adverse reaction due to that product. We expect that manufactures stand by their products in other areas of industry, why not this one? It’s hardly an incentive for exhaustive clinical trials… In short, if a recipients life is destroyed by an adverse event caused by a vaccine, as many have, well, they’re on their own, no compensation, no assistance, no nothing. In the USA (but not Australia) that have the VAERS system where claimants have received some forms of compensation from the VAERS court, but even that is taxpayer funded. So the taxpayer foots the bill for vaccine injury & the manufacture gets a free pass, incredible.

  2. We can expect that the elevation of nursing to an evidence based profession over the last 30 or 40 years will continue apace, and eventually we will see this sort of ignorance decline. But as everyone is aware, some people won’t be educated.

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