Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

Concerns about immunisation

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 22 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:240

Re: The Facts Are Not Enough

I was interested to read the joint response to the paper by Bedford
and Elliman by workers at the Department of Public Health & Community
Medicine, University of Sydney. They comment:

"Our own research on anti-vaccination press reportage has shown that
manifest claims about vaccines being dangerous and ineffective tend to be
located under a canopy of more general discourses about cover-up and
conspiracy, manipulation by venal private enterprise interests,
governments with totalitarian agendas and the back-to-nature idyll. [3] We
argue that what generates the appeal of anti-vaccination claims is
underlying reference to these wider issues."

This statement intrigues me as it seems to portray a picture of
objections to vaccination coming from those who are fearful but not
actually experienced by having a child who has been damaged by

As workers in the Department of Public Health & Community
Medicine, University of Sydney, I can understand their primary concern is
to seek a situation of herd immunity in local populations. If they want
most parents to accept that proposition then governments must take the
step of accepting current research that indicates some children can be
harmed by some vaccinations in some circumstances, and create a fund from
which adequate compensation can be offered. Without that support it will
not be surprising if many parents continue to be fearful of a potential
outcome which, if realised, will leave them and their child in a
compromised position for the rest of their lives.

Competing interests: No competing interests

28 January 2000
Alan Challoner