MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2018

Australian anti-vaccine group must change its name

A formal order was recently issued to an Australian anti-vaccination group to change its name because its current name could mislead parents.

Rod Stowe, the New South Wales fair trading commissioner, issued the order, giving the Australian Vaccination Network until February 21 to apply for a new name. Anthony Roberts, NSW's fair trading minister, confirmed the announcement on Saturday. If the association misses the deadline, its registration could be canceled, AAP reports.

"The Australian Vaccination Network does not present a balanced case for vaccination, does not present medical evidence to back up its claims and therefore poses a serious risk of misleading the community," Roberts said, according to AAP.

The name change order resulted from complaints from medical professionals, members of the public and parents.

"Ensuring appropriate rates of vaccination is an essential element to improving the health of our children," Brian Owler, the Australian Medical Association's NSW president, said, according to AAP. "It is essential for any person or organization that gives advice about vaccination to be transparent about their qualifications and the source of that information."

In February, the Australian Vaccination Network won a court battle against the Health Care Complaints Commission. The HCCC had issued a public warning about the association and ordered it to place a message on its website that it should not be read as medical advice.

The NSW Supreme Court ruled the health care watchdog had no jurisdiction to issue the public warning.

The warning came after the HCCC looked into complaints from an NSW couple whose four-week-old daughter died from pertussis, AAP reports.