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AN anti-vaccination group will have to change its name in the new year because its current name could mislead parents, the NSW government says. Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts on Saturday confirmed a formal order had been issued for the Australian Vaccination Network to adopt a new name. Mr Roberts said the directive came from NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe and gave the group until February 21 to apply for a new name. If the association misses the deadline, its registration may be cancelled.
"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," Mr Roberts said in a statement. The name change order was based on complaints from parents, medical professionals and members of the public, he said. The state Australian Medical Association (AMA) branch welcomed the order. "Ensuring appropriate rates of vaccination is an essential element to improving the health of our children," AMA NSW president Brian Owler said. "It is essential for any person or organisation that gives advice about vaccination to be transparent about their qualifications and the source of that information." It is not the first time the group has been targeted by a government body.
In February this year, the Australian Vaccination Network won a court battle against the health care watchdog, which had issued a public warning about the association and ordered it to place a message on its website stating that it "should not be read as medical advice". The NSW Supreme Court ruled the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) had no jurisdiction to issue a public warning about the Australian Vaccination Network. The HCCC issued the warning after it investigated the website following complaints from a NSW couple whose four-week-old daughter died from whooping cough.
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