Meryl Dorey fights to keep misleading title

I have seen evidence that there was even an attempt to have me deported from Australia via complaints to the Dept of Immigration…

– Meryl Dorey adds another angle to her profile as a Freedom Fighter –

Not for the first time, a salient point was serendipitously driven home on the Facebook page Stop The Australian Vaccination Network.

Last Friday night a young lady unleashed some criticism that highlights the cunning purpose of the Australian (anti) Vaccination Network’s name.

Apologies for the overt racism in there. This is far from the neatest example but it does show how persuasive first impressions can be. No doubt this has been Meryl Dorey’s intent all along. To divert attention away from her role as an antivaccine lobbyist.

Simply claiming to not be antivaccine is rather pointless however. Years ago (circa 2005) the proud antivaccine conspiracy group Vaccine Truth made a mockery of the USA NIIC phrase. Meryl took the opportunity to lift the same phrase straight from them.

Before becomming the Australian Vaccination Network in 1996, her group of antivaccine lobbyists was the Vaccine Awareness Network. Thus I was slightly amused to see an AVN contributor suggest to Meryl they switch to “Australian Vaccine Awareness Network”. More amusingly this was supported by Meryl’s most vocal Pit Poodle.

The misleading name has secured media attention and a cornucopia of false balance. Genuinely concerned and in-need parents have been fooled. People have donated money believing advanced safety testing of vaccines was an AVN priority. They scored a Charitable Fundraising Authority. Life was quite comfortable until Stop The AVN formed and exposed schemes, scams, fraud and theft.

This led in part to an investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. It found that the AVN website:

  • 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

Under the Health Care Complaints Act 1993, the HCCC had recommended the AVN put an unambiguous disclaimer on its website to convey:

  • 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.

Whilst the AVN insist that the HCCC findings were “overturned” on appeal, this is not the case. A Supreme Court ruling found the HCCC had acted outside it’s jurisdiction in posting a public warning. Ms. Dorey’s aim to have the findings abolished was firmly rejected. The HCCC public warning was removed.

The AVN disclaimer is available here, which essentially covers the points sought by the HCCC. There is thus no doubt. The AVN is an antivaccination lobby group. They are antivaccine, against vaccination, purport to offer alternatives to vaccination and falsely claim to posses a “data base” of vaccine injuries.

Recently as Dorey promoted her latest conspiracy-themed seminar series there was renewed focus on the salient point in question. What Jane McCredie has referred to as:

This country’s most prominent anti-vaccination group, the confusingly named Australian Vaccination Network…

Medical Observer recently reported under Anti-vax lobby rejects AMA call for a name change:

Australian College of Midwives executive officer Ann Kinnear told MO her organisation forwarded an email invitation to an AVN event to about 1400 NSW members before angry midwives told her the Health Care Complaints Commission had in 2009 declared AVN an anti-immunisation lobby.

“Subsequent information that’s come to hand has made me realise it’s a mistake,” Ms Kinnear said. […]

“If a major health organisation understandably is taken in, members of the public would have little hope of realising that they were not accessing independent, credible advice,” AMA (NSW) CEO Fiona Davies said.

Dr Brian Morton, chair of the AMA’s council for general practice, said AVN’s name was “duplicitous, it confuses the public, they are anti-vaccination and they certainly don’t report the evidence”.

Last weekend a suitably tabloid themed heading from the Sunday Telegraph carried some further developments. Doctors unite to smash the anti-vaccine group:

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts have been urged to force the change on the NSW-registered group in a letter signed by Associate Professor of La Trobe University Dr Ken Harvey.

His call is backed by experts from the Australian Medical Association and the University of Sydney.

As the AVN is registered with the Office of Fair Trading the government can in fact order a name change.

Dorey of course continues with the line the AVN is not antivaccination but “pro-choice”.

Predictably Ms. Dorey has afforded her critics ownership of the term “smash”, despite it appearing only in the headline of the story.

She must have been delighted. In a rambling, stumbling diatribe Dorey included:

They would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to date trying to “Smash” our small, volunteer-run organisation… We are David to their Goliath and because we stand for truth, freedom and democracy… […]

The idea that a group of doctors can unite to SMASH an organisation that questions a medical procedure sounds more like economic protectionism than true concern to me.

Wait. Economic protectionism? As in restriction of international trade? Subsidising locally produced goods or produce? Taxing imports via the application of tariffs? I think, comrade, that Meryl has been hanging out with her fellow freedom fighters at Conspiracy Central a bit too much.

Which gets to the reasons a name change has become more and more an issue of public safety. The AVN has become less and less about opposing vaccines and merely spreading fear and confusion on the topic. This is the result of a hard working group of volunteers, concerned GPs, medical organisations, certain journalists, reputable parenting forums and the self sabotage of the AVN by Meryl Dorey herself.

Today Meryl Dorey can be found on conspiracy podcasts playing laser tag warriors with some of the more unhinged members of society. If not skepgoating individual skeptics as part of an organised hate group, it’s absurdities such as the above claim that, “hundreds of thousands of dollars” has been spent targetting her alone.

The constant criticism of conventional medicine is commonplace, as is quite evident in this “media release” . Setting out to send a message of defiance on name change, it again squeezes in the notion of being “under attack”.

Let me choose one example to drive home how antivaccine Ms. Dorey really is. Here’s an ABC article warning on the dangers of co-sleeping, including Baby Talk audio. On July 6th, the ABC also reported criticism from the Victorian coroner regarding inconsistent warnings. Almost half of all sudden infant deaths involve co-sleeping. The coroners criticism was welcomed by experts in the field.

Here is Meryl Dorey advising a member of her group in November last year:

Yesterday Meryl sought to encourage another member to contact the families of SIDS cases to “find out if the children were vaccinated before their death”.

Dr. Ken Harvey would appear to be completely correct in his observation that, “The deceptive name of the organisation has potentially deadly consequences”.

Quite so, and this is simply one example that carries a single insight into how far out of step Dorey is with safe advice. More so, the AVN is less and less representative of adherents to alternatives to medicine and even genuine vaccine opponents. As polarising as certain choices clearly are, few Aussies accept there is a war to be fought or that General Dorey is their leader. Added to this is the reality that many new parents are now well aware of the AVN’s lethal, conspiratorial approach.

I’m not sure what the AVN should be called. Something in ancient Sanskrit maybe? Just don’t dare suggest they’re antivaccine.

What would ever give you that idea?

Harm Reduction: How Australia Stopped HIV

In 1985 before the introduction of needle and syringe programmes (NSP) 90% of Australian injection drug users reported sharing injection equipment. By 1994 following introduction of NSPs this figure had fallen to 20%. In 2009 this figure was around 15% possibly reflecting the constant number of distributions from NSP programmes over the previous decade.

One of the most powerful modes of resistance to the spread of HIV/AIDS is Harm Reduction (HR) measures.

In Australia, HR exists as one of three pillars of Harm Minimisation (HM) – our official illicit drug control policy. The other two pillars are Supply Reduction and Demand Reduction. Reduction in supply receiving the lions share of funding directs energy at reducing international and domestic supply. Reduction in demand receiving less funding delivers programmes and initiatives designed to reduce the demand for drugs within communities.

Harm Reduction receiving the least funding from the HM pile targets the harm to individuals that eventuates from behaviour. HR has always drawn condemnation from conservative groups because of the association with drug use and sex. Initially men who have sex with men (MSM). Then later through maximal exploitation of drug using pop culture. Nonetheless, study after study comparing countries and districts within countries to have implemented HR or not done so, show a stunning success in favour of HR.

This post will look almost exclusively at IV drug use. HR for Injection Drug Users (IDU) includes provision of clean needles and sterile water, swabs, sharps containers for disposal and specialised filters capable of removing bacteria. Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) including methadone and buprenorphine and safe injecting facilities are pivotal aspects of HR. Heroin on prescription is not available in Australia but has shown unprecedented success as a HR measure where it has been implemented.

Despite the evidence supporting HM as an effective policy and the reality that Supply Reduction [law enforcement] is the most highly funded pillar, Aussies are still subject to notions such as “Tough on drugs” and code words such as Drug Free Australia’s Harm Prevention. Intuitively it sounds fine. Why minimise harm if you can prevent it?

Yet on examination “harm prevention” is the abandonment of HM for the reintroduction of Just Say No approaches. Known to have had deleterious effects on self esteem, no effect on lowering drug use and providing the field upon which drug use flourished, Just Say No quite simply failed, and failed Epically. Today of course, skeptics are well aware of how beliefs and behaviours are reinforced through attacking them. Harm Prevention even more so is code for punitive, custodial and forced behaviour control.

It is at times perplexing as to why so much energy is spent on attacking HM entirely. Supply Reduction however is based in part upon the reality that people want, seek, use and enjoy illicit drugs. Education to accompany this is open and honest – not promotion of illicit drug use . Yet to the conservative mind the idea that their children, friends or the community at large is the demographic from which drug demand comes, is morally untenable.

With HR it is aspects of this pillar that equally cannot be accepted. To the conservative mind, just as condoms cause AIDS and promote sexual promiscuity so too do clean needles, safe injecting facilities and safe injecting education encourage drug use. Drug Free Australia write:

We need to re-focus our drug policy and practice on an approach that prioritises primary prevention, if we are to see any real change in the health and wellbeing of our current and future generations of young people. We need to acknowledge that Australia has one of the highest rates of drug use, because of a priority on Harm Minimisation rather than Harm Prevention, and we now need to take a leaf out of the books of the policy makers in the UK and United States. Both these countries have given greater emphasis to prevention initiatives, while still aiming to help people who are drug dependent, to recover.

The towering dishonesty inherent in this nonsense is typical of the tactics used by DFA in what has become over just a few years, one of the most immoral lobbying groups on the illicit drug landscape. Australia has high levels of cannabis use and abuse. This is handy in arguing that we have high drug use generally. A synopsis of the above is simply: Harm Minimisation has caused Australia to have one of the highest drug use levels in the world. We should be doing what America and the UK do.

The UK get a mention because they reclassified cannabis to a Class B (like speed/other amphetamines) from a Class C drug and punish users accordingly. Of 2.3 million USA prisoners in 2010, over 65% or 1.5 million meet DSM IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction. On top of this another 458,000 have a history that meets DSM IV criteria for addiction, were under the influence when they committed their crime, committed a crime to finance the purchase of drugs or were incarcerated for a drug law violation.

Between 1960 and 1990 official crime rates in Finland, the USA and Germany were similar. Incarceration in Finland dropped 60%, remained stable in Germany and quadrupled in the USA, driven primarily by drug convictions.

Today around around 80% of USA prisoners are incarcerated due to illicit drugs. 11% are receiving some type of “treatment”. The last thing Aussies need is a dose of the USA nightmare.

What of the impact of changing our strategy on HIV and consequently other types of blood borne virus transmission? The graph below is from a TED talk by Sereen El-Feki, vice-chair of the Global Commission on HIV and the law:

HIV infection in Injection Drug Users

Whilst Thailand and Russia have ignored Harm Reduction and Australia and Switzerland have embraced it the USA and Malaysia employed only some Harm Reduction techniques. Should Australia embrace USA tactics our prison population will explode, HIV infection in IV drug users will increase by about eight times the present rate and treatment – presently some of the best in the world with plunge to 11%. The cost to the public health purse would simply gut present programmes and destroy any hope of improvement for say, dental, mental health, public hospital care, nursing home care etc.

There is a 4 minute out-take from Sereen El-Feki’s TED talk in April this year below. Or download MP3 here.

The first case of AIDS was reported in Australia in 1983. At that time morbidity rates to rival World War II were expected. Following the innovative approach of HR, levels of infection in all demographics fell from 2,500 per year to 500 in the decade following inception of HR. This infection rate has remained stable.

At the time, initiation of clean needle supply contravened the states Drug Offensive which, already highly criticised, had regrettably escalated drug use and criminalisation via the failed “Just Say No” approach. The pilot programme ran from St. Vincents Drug and Alcohol Service on November 13 1986. It was run in the suburb of Darlinghurst. An evaluation recommended they should be adminstered by social workers, drug agencies, pharmacies, medical professionals and urged:

The urgent widespread introduction of needle exchange programmes in all states and territories

There needed to be an amendment to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act following which NSW pharmacies sold “anti-AIDS kits”. By mid 1989 there were 40 public outlets run across Sydney. By 1994 there were 250 outlets run by NGOs, government agencies and pharmacists distributing 3.5 million syringes annually. For the year 1993-1994 10.3 million syringes were distributed across Australia. The USA with 15 times the population of Australia distributed 8 million syringes in 1994-1995.

More comprehensive analyses refuted the concerns of increasing drug use. No increase in drug use was seen in any country that had instigated needle exchange and more so, attendance at rehabilitation and abstinence programmes had increased. Australia’s Commonwealth Department of Health (now Dept. of Health and Ageing) estimated that 25,000 cases of HIV were averted in the 12 years from 1988 – 2000 due to needle exchange alone (page 10 – 3.5.3).

The infection rate among Aussie IDU sat at around 3%. Users who were also MSM had an infection rate of 27%. In Russia where HR for drug users was denied, the figure for IDU was between 75 and 90%. One study in 1997 looked at 81 European cities with and without needle exchange programmes. Seroprevalence (measured from the presence of HIV within blood taken from used syringes) increased 5.9% annually in cities without clean needle distribution, and decreased 5.8% in cities with needle exchange.

In an astonishing comparison, Edinburgh with no NSP experienced a 65% HIV infection rate amongst IDU. Glasgow, less than an hours drive away and with NSP experienced a 4.5% increase in HIV infection amongst IDU. The one issue Australia faced was return of used syringes. Users were placing them in sharps bins. Yet to return any syringes to Exchanges meant risking being questioned by police. A used syringe is evidence of illicit drug use and this acted as a disincentive to return items for safe disposal.

Of note however is that fears and front page headlines of beach goers and joggers stepping on syringes and undergoing “agonising waits” for blood tests to be cleared of HIV infection are out of proportion. HIV dies very quickly once outside the body and syringes on beaches have been discarded into drains, washed out to sea and then beached. Nonetheless despite the absence of actual transmission it is an unpleasant experience which can be lessened by removing all offences for possession of a used syringe.

Clearly, Australia’s decision to take the necessary steps and bring together members of drug using demographics, gay rights advocates and prostitutes collectives and allow them to consult upon and shape this programme was one of it’s greatest public health initiatives ever.

Between 2000-2009 NSPs have averted 32,050 new cases of HIV and 96,666 Hepatitis C infections. Needles distributed increased from approximately 27 million to 31 million in that decade. For every one dollar invested, four dollars have been saved. 140,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years were gained over the same decade.

Still, conservative biblical fundamentalist group Drug Free Australia boldly inform us that Return On Investment is quite wrong and should show an expense. In earlier posts you can access from the tag on the right, I highlight how they cherry pick phrases and select data out of context. At other times they simply dismiss WHO findings based solely on the reviews of just one Swedish researcher, Dr Kerstin Käll.

So to be very clear, Dr Kerstin Käll, working for the Swedish government who are dodging UN demands to establish more Needle Exchanges and accelerate HR or remain in breach of the international right to health, conducted no research but criticised methodology that was favourable of NSP success. Her own research argues regular testing for HIV is more of a prevention – yes prevention – than clean needle supply.

It’s easy to get confused because whilst Käll supports NSP programmes as reducing hepatitis C in prisons DFA refute any change in HCV attributable to NSP programmes… anywhere. They also lobby stridently against the establishment of needle exchange in Australian prisons. Of course, despite the evidence above they insist the impact of NSP on HIV is “inconclusive”.

Ultimately it’s irrefutable how successful Harm Reduction has been in controlling the spread of blood borne viruses. Paramount amongst these is HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B. The most significant and visionary measure to now apply would include steps to decriminalisation and regulation.

Today however, this is where Australia is falling behind.

American Airlines “blackmailed” by “pharmaceutically funded” organisations say AVN

In a predictable reaction to American Airlines’ sound decision to pull her misinformation on vaccination, Meryl Dorey has launched her own petition.

The unsigned petition takes the reader on a journey of unfounded accusation and a synopsis of the original interview. It again makes the same striking distortions of truth managing to claim Ms. Dorey cites “peer-reviewed research”, when in fact she cites Wakefield’s officially retracted and fraudulent paper.

“Pharmaceutically funded organisations” have “blackmailed” American Airlines it claims. More so, removal of the potentially lethal scheme is “un-American” and “a direct contravention to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution”.


Indeed the petition is actually worse than the interview, arguing that not only is the disproved link between vaccines and autism “verified” in the medical literature, but that vaccination:

… has contributed to a rate of autism in the United States that has increased from 1:10,000 20 years ago to 1:88 today

All that needs be stressed on this is that no peer reviewed literature supports this nonsense. Respected autism organisations across the globe agree the change in diagnostic frequency is just that – a change in diagnostic frequency. This is due to changing criteria and other factors increasing the likelihood of diagnosis. Which is vastly different to an increase in the incidence of autism as it was defined two decades ago.

Those scammed this way are playing Russian Roulette with measles according to a mother who didn’t vaccinate her son due to Wakefield’s fraud. The New Zealand Herald reported today on one person’s “informed decision”:

The theory [MMR linked to autism] was eventually retracted in 2010 and Wakefield was struck off the medical register, but not before triggering a worldwide health scare around the MMR vaccine.

Said Mrs Edwards-Lasenby: “It was one of those things where I had made the informed decision at the time not to do the MMR vaccine, with the information I had available to me. But where I went wrong was not going back to revisit that information and the advice available as time went on.”

She urged parents to reconsider immunisation, particularly if advice changes, to avoid playing “Russian roulette” with children’s lives.

It will take her son 12 months to fully recover from measles. He lost 7kg after not eating for 2 weeks, was on oxygen in isolation “fighting for his life” in hospital and even when well enough to return to school:

“Then he just caught anything,” Mrs Edwards-Lasenby said. “Any little scratch he had became an infection and he was constantly on antibiotics.”

Meryl Dorey is leading parents and innocent children toward this very suffering and potentially worse. Her proposed interview includes an entirely manufactured claim suggesting that measles vaccination is ineffective. If you’re wondering what our health regulators and authorities are doing you’re not alone.

The misguided line about new pertussis genomes was dealt with two posts ago, exposing Ms. Dorey’s intentional untruth about vaccine efficacy and infant fatality. Listen to your doctor – not Meryl Dorey.

Yet, the “trial myths” used by antivaxxers deserves noting. Whilst its thunderous hypocrisy for those who promote homeopathy, chiropractic treatment of disease and cancer “cures” to bemoan a lack of “the gold standard” in scientific testing (RCT), we also find more misinformation.

Firstly it is quite untrue that vaccines are not tested against a true placebo. Safety trials involve comparison to saline. Yet antivaxxers ignore this and attack efficacy trials as not being “placebo controlled”. These trials compare vaccine components minus the agent/s responsible for the immune response (in one sample), to the full vaccine (in another sample). Such trials are absolutely crucial to delineate a true immune response from other possible responses. This complaint is void and invalid.

Next is the rather amusing insistence of the need to test the overall health of the fully unvaccinated against the fully vaccinated. Exactly how we separate the former sample from protection, and thus good health, afforded by herd immunity and still preserve the integrity of this study has never quite been explained.

More so, how do we correct for fatalities from vaccine preventable disease in the unvaccinated who are no longer alive? If the notion is to begin studies at birth I am sure no ethics committee would pass such an absurdity. This is clear if we consider restrictions on Isaac Golden’s so-called “PhD in homeopathic immunisation”. He writes in the abstract:

The effectiveness of the program could not be established with statistical certainty given the limited sample size and the low probability of acquiring an infectious disease… Further research to confirm the effectiveness of the program is justified.

Of course the subtle suggestion is that vaccinated individuals will be of inferior health due to complications from the frogs and snails and puppy dog tails that wicked vaccines contain. I would suggest that as we’re witnessing the re-emergence of diseases and the fatality they cause as a consequence of lower immunisation levels that the long term and large scale outcome of this hypothetical trial is blindingly obvious.

Next is the complaint that pharmaceutical companies conduct trials and licence vaccines “with no independent oversight on the part of government regulators”. This is also entirely false. Good Manufacturing Practice is moderated by governments and the WHO. In relation to vaccines the WHO state [bold mine]:

WHO defines Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) as “that part of quality assurance which ensures that products are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate to their intended use and as required by the marketing authorization”.  GMP covers all aspects of the manufacturing process:  defined manufacturing process; validated critical manufacturing steps; suitable premises, storage, transport; qualified and trained production and quality control personnel; adequate laboratory facilities; approved written procedures and instructions; records to show all steps of defined procedures taken; full traceability of a product through batch processing records and distribution records; and systems for recall and investigation of complaints.
The guiding principle of GMP is that quality is built into a product, and not just tested into a finished product.  Therefore, the assurance is that the product not only meets the final specifications, but that it has been made by the same procedures under the same conditions each and every time it is made.  There are many ways this is controlled – controlling the quality of the facility and its systems, controlling the quality of the starting materials, controlling the quality of production at all stages, controlling the quality of the testing of the product, controlling the identity of materials by adequate labelling and segregation, controlling the quality of materials and product by adequate storage, etc.  All of these controls must follow prescribed, formal, approved procedures, written as protocols, SOPs, or Master Formulae, describing all the tasks carried out in an entire  manufacturing and control process.

The TGA (pages 10, 19, 20, 21, 22) and FDA have similar standards. Many Aussies will remember the visit and warning CSL received from the FDA following the Fluvax scare in W.A [2]. The TGA overview is here. In Australia we have The Pharmaceutical Overview Inspection Scheme.

The petition raises a claim that must be expanded on:

The opponents of this interview cite a public warning issued by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) against the AVN. What they have failed to inform you of is the fact that in February, 2012, the NSW Supreme Court found that the HCCC had acted illegally in issuing that warning and the warning has since been removed and costs were awarded against the HCCC in favour of the AVN.

Wrong. That was down to me and as I’ve pointed out already I cited the NSW HCCC findings, which Justice Christine Adamson ruled were still valid by not accepting the AVN submission that certiorari (quashing the HCCC findings), was warranted.

Thus whilst the warning and recommendation were outside of jurisdiction due to the HCCC failure to satisfactorily demonstrate Section 7(1)(b) of the HCC Act 1993 (“a health service which affects the clinical management or care of an individual client”), the investigation findings were not expunged in any manner whatsoever. The petition should thus rightly be amended.

Check the petition out further if you want, but I would suggest that both the interview and the petition have been fairly and honestly outed as scurrilous and dishonest attempts to force demonstrably false fringe beliefs onto a wider unsuspecting audience. Of course, the AVN maintain it’s a conspiracy and Dorey has been unfairly censored. American Airlines have capitulated to “druggies” according to one signatory.

Ultimately I do hope for someone who has had such a good run on the smell of an oily scam, Dorey has the decency to accept the outcome as fair and just.

  • In a bit of a round up there’s ample to read from sites, bloggers and skeptics from the last few days:
  1. Vaccine Awareness and Information Service
  2. I Speak of Dreams
  3. I Speak of Dreams (2)
  4. Peter Bowditch
  5. Australian Skeptics
  6. Bad Astronomy
  7. Bad Astronomy (2)
  8. io9
  9. Australian Doctor
  10. Anti-vaccination group hits snag

American Airlines grounds Australian Vaccination Network

American Airlines have announced they will not air or print anti-vaccination material from Meryl Dorey of The Australian Vaccination Network.

This followed a fantastic response to an online petition and no doubt the submission of a number of letters to American Airlines, key partners and other influential individuals and organisations. Thanks to a simply awesome online community. Phil Plait blogged and tweeted bringing hundreds of thousands on board.

Fully aware of the potentially lethal consequences to flow from such egregious material thousands literally took the view: There’s no way this is gunna fly. Twitter ran hot with promotion of the petition at, and tweets to @AmericanAir asking for cancellation.

@AmericanAir tweeted their decision at 07:15 AEST then confirmed the same for printed material about 25 minutes later. Busy preparing emails for the AusAID Development Office and Scholarship Department I was alerted via phone by the ever-vigilant @fourgirlsmum.

Since the American Airlines confirmation-by-twitter, there has been other confirmation in writing to interested parties ensuring that:

 … the interview in question has not yet been submitted to American Airlines, and we will not be running it if, and when, it is.

American Airlines has done the right thing in the interests of passenger safety, disability rights and public health. For that they deserve a huge thanks and congratulations.

Of course they can follow up this episode with a review of approval processes and communication with producers and editors of in-flight material. Only a couple of days ago we were informed accessing the material was “optional”. Whilst I accept the announcement by American Airlines that Dorey’s diatribe will be dropped, it should never have made it to production initially.

Only through rigorous vetting of applicants and their proposed material for in-flight access can we be sure that dangerous schemes like this do not in future make it in under the radar – no pun intended.

Once again the scale of error and audacity inherent in Ms. Dorey’s rather extremist and outright dishonest performance can’t be overstated. In my previous post I point out a number of very obviously deceptive tactics made only worse by Ms. Dorey’s inability to understand – or perhaps accept – the science of vaccination.

The attempt to malign measles vaccination by impersonating an authority on vaccines and immunity was alarming. As Phil Plait noted in his reason for signing the petition:

In May 2011, an infant with measles was brought on board American Airlines flight 3965, and a hundred passengers had to be tracked down and many quarantined.

Incredibly Dorey had misled that the pertussis vaccine “isn’t working”, was causing a more deadly disease and that the same applied to measles vaccination. Apart from the official sounding peacock label used by the AVN, Ms. Dorey presented herself as a first person authority, suggesting involvement with extremely complex scientific research.

We know vulnerable children and infants are dying as a result of these diseases. That this could be perpetuated by misplaced trust in a calculating charlatan is intolerable.

Thus I do hope American Airlines will very take very seriously the matter of how the producer of their Executive Report, and further the editor of their American Way magazine both made such a mistake.

There was a similar situation with Delta Air Lines wherein hand washing, exercise and vitamins were presented by US anti-vaccination lobby NVIC as superior to influenza vaccination.

This resulted in the sort of review process American Airlines must now consider. ABC news reported last November:

In a response to the AAP, Delta conceded that the video does not point to vaccines as the primary source for flu prevention.

“Therefore, we have changed our internal review processes and procedures to help ensure that submitted content is vetted differently going forward,” Delta’s general manager of occupational health, Barbara Martin, wrote in response.

In view of ongoing financial losses American Airlines would be making a very sound business decision in providing passengers with the same confidence Delta Air Lines does.

For now, American Airlines is to be praised for taking a stand against a malignant force in public health. If you have a chance, tweet your thanks to @AmericanAir.

To all those involved and interested I extend my sincere, heartfelt thanks.

Surely You Can’t Be Serious: American Airlines to air AVN propaganda

Update: American Airlines has agreed to not run any AVN material

No Government has the right to say, “You have to put your child’s health at risk because we have made this procedure compulsory”

Meryl Dorey on non-compulsory vaccination for American Airlines in-flight Executive Report

In what seems like the outline of a black comedy with the tagline, At 35,000 feet nobody can tell you’re lying it has emerged that American Airlines will air in-flight material featuring radical anti-vaccination lobbyist, Meryl Dorey.

  • Audio here:

MP3 download here.

Transcript here.

This nonsense will air on 58,000 flights between July and August this year and also run in the American Way in-flight magazine. You can play a role in stopping it. Read on or scan to the second last paragraph.

Edit: As of April 22nd the Petition Ask American Airlines to Cancel anti-vaccination message was launched. Access also from the right hand column here.

It may well be a symptom of the desperation to hit American Airlines as bankruptcy looms over it’s parent company, AMR Corp. Striking losses have been a quarterly feature for over a year now and AMR only hours ago reported 1,200 cargo and baggage jobs will be cut to help offset a $1.7 billion loss already this year.

Meryl, who would have all believe she is a “health educator”, kicks off her three and a half minutes of monumental misinformation by claiming vaccination creates antibodies and as such this means one has been exposed to a disease but is not immune. What does she say about those who encounter a wild virus with absolutely no antibodies you ask? Nothing. In short she invokes Meryl’s Equation, which is well known to AVN watchers: < 100% = 0%.

Much like a body surfer, Dorey has been on a free ride following careless media reports on the emergence of new pertussis isolates (“mutated strains”) that are not present in current acellular vaccine preparations. She goes on to claim that “what we’ve found” (I kid you not) is that the acellular vaccine is “bringing a new form of whooping cough to the fore” which is not covered by the vaccine. The serious question here is has whooping cough evolved around the current vaccine?

Subtitling that very question with Reflections on the current scientific evidence is Tom Sidwell. Unlike Meryl, Tom is not married to a macadamia farmer but has a Bachelor of Science, with majors in Immunology and Microbiology, and minors in molecular biology and biochemistry. Last year he received first class honours in Immunology and presently is in the first year of a PhD delving into the development of naturally occurring Regulatory T cells.

Tom writes in his summary:

This review analyses these claims. Careful examination of the current literature indicates that while the bacterium’s genome does appear to have changed in response to pressure from the vaccine, none of these changes appear to give it any significant advantage over the immunity the vaccine induces. Thus, reports that the current vaccine is ineffective are misleading and inaccurate.

The pertussis vaccine provides vital protection and Meryl Dorey knows darn well that whilst only 5% of Australian children between 0-4 years are not fully vaccinated, they make up almost 30% of notifications. Yet again, much like a body surfer, Meryl rides the peak of the wave right to the shallows and is dumped mercilessly onto the hard sand of reality. Rather than admit task difficulty exceeds skill level Dorey manufactures demonstrable fallacies.

“For the first time in decades, we’re seeing babies die”, Dorey lies blaming the vaccine for the “much more deadly disease”, immediately after misrepresenting the totality of reasons behind high notification rates.

Meryl Dorey then continues with breathtaking deceit.

The vaccine is not working and we’re seeing similar situations with measles and mumps and we may see this with more diseases into the future.

Measles? Mumps? Similar situations? How did we get from bacterial infection to viral infection? Is this woman seriously trying to link measles virus outbreaks due to low immunisation rates, to the very recent discovery of altered genomes in Bordetella pertussis bacteria isolates? Or the known cases of vaccine conscientious objectors, infected with viral mumps who then passed it to close contacts who had been partially and fully vaccinated for MMR? Apparently she is.

One can only stress that vaccine induced immunity is not impervious to prolonged assault. In the cases I’m familiar with the vaccinated subjects who contracted mumps were mostly those who had one MMR shot, less so in those who had two and least so in those who had completed the course of three. Of course, it’s axiomatic that had the conscientious objectors (religious communities), been vaccinated there would be no mumps outbreak to speak of. Countless individuals in close contact showed no infection thanks to MMR vaccination.

The other nonsense is close to outrageous for a “health educator”. This is fear mongering at it’s best. Yes, Australia has epidemic levels of pertussis infection moving across the nation. Notifications are higher than ever. Yet diagnostic techniques are more sensitive than ever. The wide spread use of PCR has multiplied confirmed diagnoses many times over as it can detect pertussis infection of much milder levels and for weeks longer than earlier laboratory tests. The skill of clinicians and heightened awareness has led to earlier and more frequent recommendation for testing.

More to the point, rather than suddenly seeing infant fatalities coinciding with rising diagnosis we see fatalities are less than during the 1997 (pre acellular vaccine) epidemic. Hospitalisations are approximately the same. In respect of the claim “For the first time in decades, we’re seeing babies die“, one notes in Australia 16 children under 12 months died from pertussis between 1993 and 2008. In 2001 and 2002 alone, five infants under two months old died from pertussis. American Airlines passengers will be lied to. Period.

With such alarming misinformation it isn’t surprising Dorey continues to argue Andrew Wakefield’s research is valid and that “the only common denominator” to explain what she erroneously assumes is an increase in autism as it was defined a generation ago, is vaccination. Not only is this fallacious but ignores the 217 day hearing into Wakefield’s fraudulent paper.

In Science Betrayed the BBC note that the General Medical Council found:

Andrew Wakefield’s continued lack of insight into his misconduct is so grave that nothing less than erasure from the medical register would do

In an unprecedented move Wakefield’s paper was retracted from The Lancet. It now lingers on the fringes of conspiracy theory from whence come increasingly absurd claims Wakefield has been “vindicated”.

Wakefield was found guilty of four counts of dishonesty, around a dozen counts of causing children to undergo invasive and unnecessary procedures, buying blood from children at a birthday party and ordering tests he was not qualified to order. It has since emerged his scheme was an elaborate plan to make money from immunodiagnostics focusing on the very syndrome he manufactured.

However, according to Dorey, vaccine induced autism is common in the medical literature and Wakefield’s paper is “the study that everybody talks about”. Well, despite it’s retraction it also clearly states “we did not prove an association between measles mumps and rubella and the syndrome described [autistic enterocolitis]”. Perhaps Meryl should talk about that.

Rather she offers:

A lot of people are saying that this journal article has been discredited, but what they’re ignoring is the fact that since this original paper was published there have been many other papers verifying this finding

Again this is utterly false as a quick search will prove. The opposite has been demonstrated over and over. Children not exposed to thimerosal have identical rates of autism to those that were. Children not given MMR following a complete ban on this vaccine as a result of Wakefield’s fraud, showed increased rates of autism. US courts have ruled vaccines are not related to autism. Dorey tried her best last December and came up with nothing but a see-through scam.

Edit (Added 21/04): Reasons for increased diagnoses include:

  • The actual frequency of autism may have increased, meaning more children have it
  • There is increased case reporting, leading to greater findings, better use of funding and heightened awareness
  • Changes in the DSM-III-R and DSM-IV diagnostic criteria may account for more cases
  • Parents are more conscious of autism, more likely to seek expert help and more cases are being diagnosed as a result
  • Earlier diagnoses have essentially added a new younger demographic to the the existing demographic of children – ie; it spans more years
  • When we examine rising autism figures we find a corresponding drop in other types of mental disability and retardation, meaning they are now within the autism spectrum
  • There is an increase in misdiagnoses of autism which may partly explain the misconception of “autism cures”
  • Application of childhood criteria to novel adult samples yields a diagnostic frequency equal to children (supporting a change in criteria, not incidence)

Indeed, every duck, dodge and weave that anti-vaccination lobbyists have tried has been patiently accommodated and found to not support any link between vaccination and autism. In addition American Airlines get the AVN patented claim of “mandatory vaccination”, which is another fallacy but emotive enough to suspend critical thought and the need for evidence.

In short American Airlines are giving voice to a most malignant force in public health and by doing so run the risk of contributing to ongoing disease outbreak, family tragedy and parental angst. Perhaps “The Australian Vaccination Network” looked safe on paper – an understandable error.

I ask you to join me in making your concerns known to American Airlines by emailing Customer Relations and perhaps contacting the Board of Directors. At the very least Thomas W. Horton Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AMR Corporation/American Airlines, Inc., should be made aware that his company is promoting potentially lethal information to the detriment of Australian, American and European citizens.

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