By Dr Harry Nespolon, President,
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
Celebrity chef Pete Evans appears to have modified his language when discussing his anti-vaccination stance.
Further reading: The Last Iron Lung
Reports have emerged concerning an Instagram post from Mr Evans in which he claims he is not “anti anything” but poses the question: “why are there children and adults who have major reactions when they receive the [vaccination] shot?
Australians should be sceptical of what they are hearing from Pete Evans.
Right now we are a crucial point in the fight against anti-vaccination activism.
Vaccines are one of the great success stories of modern medicine and they are safe for you and your family. It is rare for anyone to have an adverse reaction to any vaccination.
If you speak to someone today who suffered from polio as a child they will tell you how important vaccinations are. I encourage anti-vaxxers to sit down and have a chat with them to learn about their views on anti-vaccination advocacy. Hopefully, it will change their minds about the harm they are causing.
Pete Evans now appears to be trying to walk back his anti-vaxxer messaging.
But his long history of anti-vaxxer advocacy, his questioning of the science underpinning vaccinations, and his description of himself as ‘pro-choice for medical freedom’ on vaccines makes any turnaround difficult to believe.
I think it is more likely that he is just as intent on anti-vaxxer advocacy as ever but is simply trying to modify his language to achieve maximum reach on mainstream media platforms and get more Australians on board.
Pete Evans and other celebrities are exploiting fears concerning the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve huge reach on social media and vaccination opponents are flooding senior government ministers’ officers with anti-vaxxer mail.
I understand one minister received at least 600 hard copy letters this month, which shows the level of persistence being exhibited by this determined group of conspiracy theory sceptics.
This is the time to step up and fight back.
I fully support the AMA’s calls for a government campaign to remind parents to vaccinate their children and do so on time. There is no time for delay, we need to communicate to the public the importance of vaccinations.