Hot on the heels of the Federal Government’s new immunisation awareness campaign, at least three Melbourne doctors are under investigation for allegedly helping parents to avoid vaccinating their children.
Victoria’s acting Health Minister, Martin Foley, confirmed that the Victorian Health Department and health watchdog Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) are investigating worrying claims a small number of Melbourne GPs may be routinely helping anti-vaxx families avoid compulsory vaccinations.
While specific details can’t be divulged, due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, the ABC reports that a medical exemption is one way for parents who are opposed to immunisation to get around the compulsory schedule of vaccinations.
The Herald Sun alleges that there’s an underground movement of doctors who are using these medical exemptions as a loophole for families who think vaccinations are harmful and seek to avoid them.
The Australian says that Mitcham GP Dr John Piesse, a vocal critic of the government’s No Jab No Play policy, spoke at a screening of anti-immunisation film Vaxxed earlier this month in Melbourne’s east.
Dr Piesse told the assembled crowd that there are “loops and hoops” doctors could explore if they wanted to assist anti-vaxxer families to avoid immunisation.
“I am a doctor who has been working hard for 18 months to try and help parents get exemption from ‘vaccinated pain for vaccinated play’, with mixed success. There are a few loops and hoops, but any doctor who wants to learn about it could contact some of the people in the AVN (Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network) and they could contact the doctor and explain what has to be done,” he said.
A pattern of exemptions
The Australian alleges that Dr Piesse is one of the doctors under investigation. He’s been on AHPRA’s radar since this time last year when the Health Department lodged a notification about a number of immunisation exemption applications he’d applied for on behalf of young patients.
Dr Piesse told those at the Vaxxed screening “I want you to know it is possible to get the exemption. So there is hope.”
A furious Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was outraged that medical professionals would support the anti-vaccination movement.
“I am astonished that any people who’ve been through medical degrees … would deign to stoop to the level of supporting the anti-vaccination movement,” he said.
Mr Hunt was also frustrated that AHPRA had been investigating for over 12 months without any apparent resolution.
More to come.
We’ll update you on this story as information comes to hand.