Australian scientists concerned by anti-immunization lobby

Australian scientists fear that the anti-immunization lobby has inspired dramatically increasing numbers of parents to refuse to vaccinate their children and possibly left the country open to infection.

One in 12 Australian babies have not been fully immunized, and the number of parents registering for exemptions has grown from approximately 4,000 in 1999 to more than 30,000 this year, according to

In response, 12 of the country's top scientists recently launched a campaign aimed to debunk claims that vaccines are dangerous.

Eminent biologist Sir Gustav Nossal accused the anti-vaccine lobby of reversing progress made towards eradicating measles by promoting the false claim that the vaccine causes autism. Nossal said that the lobby has only been successful against immunizations because childhood disease rates have remained low, which has been because of the very vaccines the lobby campaigns against.

The Australian Academy of Science recently released a 20-page booklet in support of immunizations. The booklet explains that more children will die from measles, mumps and diphtheria than would be potentially harmed by side effects from the vaccines against them.

"As infectious diseases become less common, people are less aware of the need to vaccinate their children," Professor Ian Frazer, who developed the cervical cancer vaccine, said, reports.