A Melbourne mother was shocked to receive an invitation last weekend via the social networking website meetup.com to join an anti-vax playgroup.
The Age shares, the invitation was from the the Outer Eastern Non-Vaccinated Toddler Playgroup, addressed to “Conscious Informed Parents”, in what appeared to be an automatically generated email.
It reads: “I am starting this meetup in an attempt to connect with other Mums in the outer Eastern area of Melbourne that, like me, have done their research and chosen NOT to vaccinate their children and want to meet on a fortnightly basis to provide informal social interaction with other like-minded Mums & Dads with pre-school tots.”
One mum who received the invite said she was shocked to see the group on a mainstream website.
“Usually, these people stick to private Facebook groups,” said Allie, whose one year old son has received all the vaccinations for his age.
“This really is a community concern. I’m just terrified that we’re going to end up with diseases that have been eradicated coming back, because people [don’t] vaccinate their children.”
Authorities have no power to stop anti-vaxxers and their unimmunised children gathering, but the playgroup plan is of concern to Health Minister Jill Hennessy.
“When it comes to vaccination the science is clear. It saves lives,” she said.
“This sort of behaviour not only puts the health of their children at risk, it endangers the lives of other children in the community. I’d seriously encourage any parent to take advice from their GP before knowingly exposing their children to the risks of an anti-vax playgroup.
“Parents who may not have their own vaccinations up to date could also be a risk to unvaccinated children.”
Under the laws, a child must be fully immunised for their age or on a vaccination catch-up program before enrolling at a childcare centre, kindergarten or family daycare centre. Children can be exempt only for medical reasons, but there is no exemption for “conscientious objection”.
The laws, however, do not apply to unlicensed playgroups or parents’ groups.
Earlier this week we shared that Health professionals are concerned the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine may no longer be working effectively, leaving a large section of the population unprotected from the mumps virus. Last year the biggest outbreak of mumps was recorded, with 804 cases. Read the full story here.
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