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11 Oct 2016

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate—new booklet launched to address immunisation fears

Minister for Health the Hon Sussan Ley MP has joined the presidents of the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Academy of Science, Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty and paediatrician Dr Michael Freelander MP to launch The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers.

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Andrew Holmes, said 72,000 copies of the revised and updated booklet that was first published in 2011 had been distributed to locations in every State and Territory in response to renewed concerns around immunisation.

“An ungrounded fear of immunising children against disease still exists in parts the community, which can be addressed by better education and understanding,” said Professor Holmes today at Parliament House in Canberra today.

“With this booklet, all of the latest science is presented in a simple and impartial manner,” he said.

Questions answered in The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers include:

  • What is immunisation?
  • What is in a vaccine?
  • Who benefits from vaccines?
  • Are vaccines safe?
  • How are vaccines shown to be safe?
  • What does the future hold for vaccination?

“This booklet gives anyone the ability to learn more and provides access to the most up-to-date information from some of Australia’s leading researchers in immunology,” Professor Holmes said.

One of these researchers, Professor Peter Doherty, was presented with the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1996 for his contributions to the science of immunisation. As he marks the 20th anniversary of his Nobel Prize, he has echoed the call for Australians anxious about immunisation to reach out for more information to understand how beneficial immunity is to communities.

“There is cutting edge research in immunisation being done all over the world, which may unlock ways to prevent diseases like the Zika virus, Alzheimer’s disease and much more,” Professor Holmes said.

“With a community that is informed and passionate about immunisation, we can hope to continue the good work generations of scientists like Professor Doherty achieved in the past, eliminating some of the world’s most challenging and damaging diseases.”

The booklet is available online, and hard copies will also be distributed to doctors’ offices, clinics and other locations where immunisations are carried out across the country.

The reprinting and distribution of the booklet is supported by the Department of Health.