AMA slams anti-vax candidates

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The AMA has expressed concern over the number of election candidates it says are spreading "lies and misinformation" about the global success of vaccination in eradicating disease and saving lives.

President Dr Tony Bartone described as "disturbing" the fact candidates, and a whole political party, have been actively casting doubt over the benefits of vaccination.

"The AMA is aware of one anti-vaccination candidate who is also campaigning against fluoridation of water," it said.

“The science is in and the evidence is clear – vaccination saves lives and improves public health around the world,” said Dr Bartone.

“Vaccines stop preventable diseases. Parents know that routine infant and child immunisation is a proven, cost-effective public health measure that reduces the spread of vaccine-preventable disease.

“Vaccinating children protects them and importantly also protects the wider community.

“Rubella has been eradicated in Australia because of vaccinations. This means that thousands of parents have been spared the tragedy of stillbirth, miscarriage, or infants being born with serious life-long health complications.

“The success of vaccination worldwide means that most Australian doctors have never had to witness their patients relying on iron lungs due to the paralysis caused by polio.

“The risks posed by vaccine-preventable disease must be taken seriously. We must not become complacent. The recent quarantining of US College students is a case in point.

“Spreading false and dangerous misinformation can and does cost lives.

“Voters should steer clear of candidates who are peddling dangerous lies about the health benefits of vaccination and other measures that protect the health of families and communities.”

Dr Bartone said the need to support vaccination came as Australia experienced a widespread earlier than usual outbreak of flu cases.

He said the flu is potentially on track to kill significantly more Australians this year compared to recent years.

“So far this year, nearly 27,000 people have been struck down by the flu,” said Dr Bartone.

“It is a very serious flu season, which started early. By March this year, there were 10,000 reported cases, compared to just 3,173 at the same time last year. This is especially concerning on the back of a very mild 2018 season.

“It is important that people, especially those in vulnerable groups, get vaccinated by their GP as soon as possible. For many, it is provided free under the National Immunisation Program by the Government.

“Vulnerable groups include young children, pregnant women, people aged over 65, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Vaccination will reduce preventable deaths and serious illness, and keep the pressure off already busy hospital emergency departments.

“Vaccination, irrespective of age, will help to protect other vulnerable family members who may be particularly susceptible to becoming infected.”