Civil Liberties and the Critics of Safe Vaccination: Australian Vaccination Network Inc v. Health Care Complaints Commission (2012) NSWSC 110

(2012) 20 Journal of Law and Medicine 44

15 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2013 Last revised: 22 Jun 2013

See all articles by Timothy Vines

Timothy Vines

Civil Liberties Australia; RegNet

Thomas Alured Faunce

Australian National University

Date Written: June 1, 2012

Abstract

Public immunisation programs have, time and again, demonstrated their effectiveness at reducing mortality and morbidity from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and pertussis. Governments, health agencies and almost all health practitioners regard vaccines as safe and cost-effective treatments with a low risk profile. Nevertheless, despite, or perhaps because of, their success, immunisation programs and vaccines have increasingly been questioned by various lobby groups, sceptical of the safety of vaccines and the motives of those who administer them. Whereas the reach of these groups would have once been limited by the cost of postage, the internet has delivered a global audience. The extent to which these anti-vaccination advocates are expected to comply with the ethical and professional standards applied to registered health professionals remains unresolved in Australia. As demonstrated in the case of Australian Vaccination Network Inc v Health Care Complaints Commission [2012] NSWSC 110, the ability of professional oversight bodies to regulate the information promoted by these lobby groups is limited by traditional conceptions of the doctor-patient relationship and the clinical setting in which medical advice is delivered. Acknowledging that vaccines, like all medical treatments, involve some level of risk, this article explores the relationship between the state, parents, family, medical professionals and such lobbyists within a human rights framework, suggesting that most public immunisation programs deliver benefits in “the best interest of the child” that, on balance, provide a good result for the civil liberties of Australians.

Keywords: public health, vaccination, Australian Vaccination Network, HCCC, NSW, anti-vaccination, fluvax

Suggested Citation

Vines, Timothy and Faunce, Thomas Alured, Civil Liberties and the Critics of Safe Vaccination: Australian Vaccination Network Inc v. Health Care Complaints Commission (2012) NSWSC 110 (June 1, 2012). (2012) 20 Journal of Law and Medicine 44. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2282460

Timothy Vines

Civil Liberties Australia ( email )

PO Box 7438
FISHER ACT 2611, 04043
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://www.cla.asn.au

RegNet ( email )

Australian National University
Building #8
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Thomas Alured Faunce (Contact Author)

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia
61 2 61253563 (Phone)

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