How to bully a doctor – really?

Why do vaccines cause so much upheaval as opposed to, say, antibiotics, painkillers and certain over-the-counter supplements?

Australian Doctor Magazine reported this week that the Anti Vaccination Network (AVN) advises parents about how to ‘bully’ doctors into signing the Medicare immunisation exemption conscious objection form.

Here’s how the AVN apparently feels about doctors (quoted from the document with instructions spread by the AVN):

Doctors are just people who went to drug company sponsored universities and have, for the most part, been brainwashed into thinking vaccines are safe and effective. They sit on a toilet just like you and I and are no better than you or I, so don’t put up with being bullied, talked down to or abused by these people.

Here are some of the concerning tips the AVN gives to parents who do not want to vaccinate their kids and are after a signature of their GP:

  • “If the doctor treats you with disrespect, ask the doctor ‘is he threatened by people making informed decisions?’ and also”
  • “Remind the doctor that according to the Australian Health Charter, you have a right to be treated with respect and your beliefs respected”
  • “If the doctor continues with disrespect, let him/her know you will be reporting him/her for this conduct”
  • “If you do not get the form signed DO NOT PAY for the consultation as you did not get what you went for. Explain that if you are forced to pay you will report this to the ACCC.”

A more useful resource for parents who are genuinely interested in information about vaccines is The Science of Immunisation, by the Australian Academy of Science, although I think too much scientific information exchange should be avoided.

Australian Doctor Magazine also quoted MDA National medicolegal manager Dr Sara Bird, who said “GPs were under no legal obligation to sign the forms if they felt unable to properly explain to a particular parent the benefits and risks associated with immunisation, and the dangers of not immunising children. (…) GPs could end consultations if the discussion became ineffective or compromised, such as if a patient behaved in a threatening way, or there was a loss of mutual respect.”

Good advice from Dr Bird, let’s treat each other with respect. If the discussion is not leading to anything, it’s probably best to end the consultation or continue the conversation at a later stage.

Why we vaccinate: amazing figures from Australia

These graphs show what happens to the number of deaths when we start vaccinating.

The red arrow indicates when vaccines were introduced in Australia. The take-home message: vaccines save lives.

Why we vaccinate
Image (click to enlarge): Number of deaths in Australia from diseases now vaccinated against, by decade (1926–2005). Red arrow indicates when vaccine was introduced. Source: The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers, Australian Academy of Science.

For more information have a look at the website from the Australian Academy of Science which provides easy-to-understand information that explains the science of immunisation.