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Nurses In Australia Face Punishment For Promoting Anti-Vaccination Messages Via Social Media (medicalxpress.com) 656

HughPickens.com writes: Medical Express reports that nurses and midwives promoting anti-vaccination messages in Australia could face punishment including being slapped with a caution and having their ability to practice medicine restricted. Serious cases could be referred to an industry tribunal, where practitioners could face harsher penalties such as having their registration suspended or cancelled. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia released the vaccination standards in response to what it described as a small number of nurses and midwives promoting anti-vaccination via social media. The statement also urges members of the public to report nurses or midwives promoting anti-vaccination. Promoting false, misleading or deceptive information is an offense under national law and is prosecutable by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. "The board will consider whether the nurse or midwife has breached their professional obligations and will treat these matters seriously," the statement said. However Dr. Hannah Dahlen, a professor of midwifery at the University of Western Sydney and the spokeswoman for the Australian College of Midwives, worries the crackdown may push people with anti-vaccination views further underground. "The worry is the confirmation bias that can occur, because people might say: 'There you go, this is proof that you can't even have an alternative opinion.' It might in fact just give people more fuel for their belief systems."
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Nurses In Australia Face Punishment For Promoting Anti-Vaccination Messages Via Social Media

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  • About time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2016 @05:03AM (#53120897)

    Good.
    Implement this in more countries please.

    • Re:About time. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Friday October 21, 2016 @06:44AM (#53121243)
      Speaking as someone who suffered very mild brain damage as a consequence of contracting the measles as a child before I was due to be vaccinated can I suggest that these people should be jailed! I was very very lucky I only lost the hearing in one ear and have slight manual dexterity issues. These people are causing very real harm!
      • Not jailed, but put into the same medical category as homeopaths. Believers could still patronize them, but they would no longer be part of the "real medicine" system.

        • Not jailed, but put into the same medical category as homeopaths. Believers could still patronize them, but they would no longer be part of the "real medicine" system.

          I think most anti-vaxers already ARE homeopaths too, so that won't offend them. They probably visit chiropractors and wonder why their back gets worse and worse, and are probably on gluten free diets despite not having celiac.

  • Slapping time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jesrad ( 716567 ) on Friday October 21, 2016 @05:15AM (#53120915) Journal

    The move followed outbreaks of measles in Europe and parts of the United States, and local whooping cough and measles cases in Australia.

    There was actual harm done because of the sticky stupid of antivaccine activists, so of course their Board will purge in response. People who make themselves allies of the first Horseman of the Apocalypse (Pestilence/plague) do not belong in the healthcare business.

  • Is that all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday October 21, 2016 @05:21AM (#53120927)
    WTF is the point of spending years training to become a nurse / midwife if they just decide to ignore evidence of the efficacy of vaccination and promote woo? Anyone pushing antivax nonsense should be barred from practicing as a nurse or midwife. It should be that simple.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      It's inevitable that a certain fraction of people go off the deep edge. People are irrational, even (or perhaps mostly) people who are convinced they are entirely rational. Rationality is a fragile thing because emotion and confirmation bias are deeply woven into everyone's thinking.

      For normal people are few more powerful emotional impulses than the urge to protect children. It should hardly be surprising that children come to harm from it.

    • WTF is the point of spending years training to become a nurse / midwife if they just decide to ignore evidence of the efficacy of vaccination and promote woo? Anyone pushing antivax nonsense should be barred from practicing as a nurse or midwife. It should be that simple.

      Especially since the person who started all this vaccination = autism malarkey admitted years ago he made it all up.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Friday October 21, 2016 @05:35AM (#53120951)

    When you say we can't trust any vaccines, that's not a sound professional opinion. However, when you jump into attacking people who don't want to get Gardasil (which is far less safe than most vaccines) or Anthrax (many military veterans have had serious problems with it) because we can trust the Polio and MMR vaccines you're even worse than the anti-vaxxers. Know why? Because all it takes to disprove an anti-vaxxer is show the real harm that the core vaccines that are battle-tested prevent. Some science popularizing elitist wingnut who borrows from the legitimacy of those vaccines to hound people who don't accept that vaccines as a category are safe (because no medicine as a category, is categorically safe) is directly tying the reputation of proven medicine to unproven medicine.

  • by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Friday October 21, 2016 @05:55AM (#53120999)

    If what they are promoting goes against the evidence and leads to harming patient then they should be barred.

    Having an opinion is one thing. Holding a position on a verifiable matter, that leads to putting patients at increase risk is at odds with the goal of your profession is a completely different matter.

    They want to push some thoroughly debunked agenda? feel free but don't pretend you're a medical professional
    • As long as they do not act against the professional standards, then there is no reason to do anything about their opinion and expression thereof.
      Since when is Australia a fascist state?
  • Ever know someone who walks into the bar and tells you a story along the lines of "... and she comes home from work early and I'm in the sack with her sister - and now she wants a divorce!" in the expectation of sympathy and all he gets is crickets chirping?

  • Like what ? It's like trying to promote lies as a perfectly valid alternative to truth. Not everything has two sides.
  • The great thing about authoritarian rule is it is efficient and forces compliance.

    The bad thing is when it enforces a wrong policy and causes more harm.

    And the trouble is, in life we can never really know whether an idea is correct. So there is always a risk.

    Which is why flexibility is needed to some extent, and you always have to step back and say, ok, how can we be so sure?

    Right now for example, Australia has been banning a surgeon who has been saying that maybe it isn't such a good idea that diabetics ea

  • There you go, this is proof that you can't even have an alternative opinion.

    You are right, you can NOT have an alternative opinion, because this is not about an opinion. If I put a knife in your kids head and you say that that killed your kid, I am not aloud to say "But that is, like, just your opinion." So if you do the same with my kid, I will not allow you that excuse either.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday October 21, 2016 @07:19AM (#53121431)

    "The worry is the confirmation bias that can occur, because people might say: 'There you go, this is proof that you can't even have an alternative opinion.' It might in fact just give people more fuel for their belief systems."

    That's right. On this matter there is no room for an alternative opinion because it isn't a question of opinion. Vaccines work and they are safe and are critical to keeping the population healthy. That is a proven and indisputable fact. You have the right to elect to not get a vaccine but you should not be allowed under any circumstances to spread misinformation or discourage others from vaccination. If you want to decline to be vaccinated that is your prerogative but there should be some quarantine consequences to your actions. Nurses who should know better discouraging others from getting vaccinations is particularly odious and to my mind criminal. Such people have no business being in the field of medicine.

  • by TheDawgLives ( 546565 ) <http://www@suckitdown@org> on Friday October 21, 2016 @08:13AM (#53121701) Homepage Journal

    "and having their ability to practice medicine restricted"

    Well, seeing as how they aren't practicing "medicine" in the first place, this doesn't seem much of a punishment.
    They are doing more harm than good by discouraging vaccination.

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Friday October 21, 2016 @08:25AM (#53121785)

    We have this idea in free society that people are entitled to their own opinions and the government should not force people to believe one thing or another. And it’s not like we lack precedents where totalitarian governments actively suppress ideas that might disrupt their regime. So we do need to keep in mind that indvidual people should be free to be wrong and be assholes. That kid in the gorilla costume at Tennessee State was an asshole, but should he be brought up on criminial charges? We need to ensure that “assholes” are not summarily suppressed. Richard Dawkins acts like an asshole but he’s still right about evolution.

    Now, when it comes to these nurses, the situation is entirely different. They are entitled to their *personal* opinion. But this is a matter of professional activity. In their capacities as nurses (even on their own time), they represent their employers. As a CS professor, I could be dismissed for a wide range of inappropriate behaviors in my “personal life,” including hooking up with an undergrad and making offensive and racist statements on social media. I can maintain my right to express an opinion, and my employer can exercise their right to not be associated with someone who does not represent their core values. (Although, I will say that I’ve heard that BYU won’t grant tenure to anyone who they see as not sufficiently “Mormon,” and I think that’s reprehensible, so there is some room for debate on this, which is why we have courts.)

    There’s also not much room on this subject for “personal opinion.” Science doesn’t have answers for everything, but all attempts to show a solid link between vaccines and autism have failed, and those attempts have been numerous. This isn’t based on a single publication with no replication studies. This topic has been beaten to death. It be shown that their statements are factually wrong. They are also not researchers in this area. If they were, then they would be in a position to conduct further studies to see if they could prove a link. Instead, they are just talking out their arses.

    Even more important, they are putting people in danger. And that’s what this is all about. The benefits of vaccines are not in dispute, and the risks are minimal and nebulous. When your scientific illiteracy puts people in danger, you need to be stopped.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday October 21, 2016 @11:18AM (#53123071)

    At least if you are a professional in a field.

    Because I would expect my professional to be at the level of current science and technology. I do expect my mechanic to think that sand isn't the best lubricant for my gear box, I do expect my doctor to know that it's not a good idea to sprinkle holy water that he got from the holy pond in his garden into my open chest wound and I do expect my IT security guy to know that it's not a good idea to let the new server sit on the ley line in front of our HQ for a night to absorb the good energies.

    If you want to believe that, great. But get out of your field of work before you do. If you want to offer "alternative" stuff, move into that profession instead. I am sure there is a market for that too, else people would not have invented that snake oil. But if you are my nurse and responsible for working on my child, I do fucking EXPECT you to give him or her that MMR shots and not avoid it because you "don't believe in it".

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