KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 — The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) recently released a statement warning health practitioners that they had a responsibility to the public to promote evidence that vaccines are safe and effective.
Spreading anti-vaccination messages would result in disciplinary action and even prosecution.
It expressed concern that some health practitioners, including nurses, chiropractors and doctors, were found to be promoting anti-vaccination views through their practices and social media.
“We take seriously any case of practitioners spreading dangerous and misleading anti-vaccination information including on social media,” he said. “They will face regulatory action or prosecution. We are asking the public to tell us if their practitioner is doing this. If you raise your concerns with us we can investigate and protect others.” said AHPRA’s head, Martin Fletcher.
“Practitioners are of course entitled to hold personal beliefs, but they must ensure that they do not contradict or counter public health campaigns, including about the efficacy or safety of public health initiatives,” he said.
Dr Anne Tonkin, Chair of Medical Board of Australia, said doctors played a central role in guiding families’ decisions about their healthcare, with the vast majority of doctors actively supporting public health vaccination programs.
“Patients trust their doctors to give them accurate information. After speaking with their doctor, no parent should be confused about the evidence base for vaccinating their children or the public interest in doing so,” she said.
In response to a number of concerns raised about health practitioners who have advocated against evidence-based vaccination programmes, national health boards and AHPRA have stated that they would take action to manage risk to the public.
This included restricting practitioners’ practice pending further investigation, when there was a serious risk to the public.
The warning comes as Australia experiences an early influenza outbreak combined with a five-year high in measles cases in 2019.