That last bastion of news reporting and current events, Sunrise, has again added fuel to the flame war that is the vaccination argument.

I refuse to call it a debate, because, as I have said previously, that implies there are two sides that are both valid. This is just not the case here and I’m heartily sick of the whole anti-vaccination crowd being given any credibility by the media.

In this instance, Sunrise was hosting it’s usual panel called “Kochie’s Angels”. The segment consists of David Koch and an all-female panel. They spend a few minutes discussing a couple of current issues and generally, it’s pretty tame.

Vaccination Critic

However, there was that one time when Sarah Wilson (journalist, television presenter, blogger, media consultant and author)  blathered a whole bunch of anti-vaccine rhetoric on the Sunrise panel, implying that wealthier parents aren’t vaccinating their kids because they are “more educated” and a whole other lot of codswallop. Remember the fuss that created?

The vaccination discussion starts about 2-3 minutes from the end if you can’t be bothered sitting through the whole thing.

The Latest Vaccination Discussion

On Wednesday, in shades of Sarah Wilson’s comments, panelists discussed the vaccination again– in particular the whooping cough vaccine. Two of the panelists lent credence to the anti-vaccination crowd, with one, Elka Whalan (former swimmer, now a model, writer and speaker), suggesting that parents should research “both sides” of the argument. The other, Sally Obermeder (TV presenter and media personality), spoke about how parents love their children and have the “right to choose”.

You know what gets to me about this? If one person takes Elka’s “advice” and “researches” the anti-vaccine point of view, there is a chance they will take it seriously. There are many slick, credible looking websites out there giving out really shitty, dangerous and just plain wrong “health advice” but most especially around vaccines. Not everyone can tell the difference. Some arguments might seem compelling enough. Some people have a faulty bullshit-o-meter. Some people are willing to accept a much greater level of conspiracy than others. Some will be terrified by the lies and cherry picked info presented on anti-vaccine websites. Some might opt out of some vaccines. Some might delay the entire schedule. Some might skip them entirely.

And as a result, someone might die.

I’m not being melodramatic. I’m not exaggerating. The reason vaccines were developed in the first place was to protect us from diseases that can kill us. Hearing people in the media suggest that there are two valid “sides” could literally be catastrophic if someone takes it seriously.

Someone’s un-vaccinated child might get seriously ill or even die. Or pass on the illness to a baby too young to be vaccinated, like baby Riley Hughes or baby Dana McCaffery were. An elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system might get infected and suffer serious illness or death. A pregnant woman could get infected and miscarry.

I could provide a bunch of links to quality information like I did in this post but I have another suggestion, because, like the aforementioned Kochie’s Angel’s panelists, I have no medical or scientific qualifications. I’m just a blogger- don’t take my word for it. Instead, ask a doctor. An actual doctor that has spent years studying medicine. I have. That way, if you want to go on t.v. and discuss vaccination, you can say you’ve spoken to an actual doctor and pass on what they told you. You know, instead of ignorantly and dangerously defending the “other side”- the side that accuses the whole medical establishment of colluding to poison us all while they line their pockets with cash. This is the same side, mind you, that will happily take your cash for things like “membership” and quack remedies that range from the dubious to the downright dangerous.

Those in the media need to take five minutes to recognise that their words can have an impact- a big one. Surely it’s a privilege that comes with some level of responsibility?



 Linking up with Sonia for Weekend Rewind and Agent Mystery Case for Worth Casing.





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  • writeofthemiddle

    I saw this and was absolutely shocked! There is no debate. There should be no parental choice on this topic. If you don’t vaccinate your children – you leave not only them unprotected but you put the community at large at risk. Already we are seeing the consequences of parents not vaccinating and if it continues – it will only get worse! When my daughter was in Year 7 she became friends with a girl whose parents did not vaccinate their children. Her friend got whooping cough. My daughter then got whooping cough. I also then got whooping cough. We were very sick for quite some time! I am just fortunate that my child who contracted whooping cough was 11 years of age and not a tiny baby!

    • Oh wow that is awful- a friend of mine caught it as an adult as he didn’t know he needed boosters. He was horribly ill. Can’t imagine how hard it would be for a bub. Just reading the accounts breaks my heart.

  • Leanne Shea Langdown

    I agree. Agree, agree, agree. There is no debate.
    Great post.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  • Great post! I love the “research” argument. You (anti-vaxxer) researched on Dr Google and found a whole lot of bullshit to support your claim. Surprise, surprise. Anyone can find someone on the internet who agrees with them if they want to. If people can get in such an uproar over Peter Evan’s Baby formula then why aren’t we drawing the same line for anti-vaxxers and say no in the same way? We won’t have it!
    Not vaccinating has been proven to cause death, thousands of times over. History proved itself already, did it’s job. It’s not hard people!

    • ALSO – since when is this a complex issue, Sarah Wilson? It’s black and white.

    • I know! They forget how many died before vaccines! Pete Evans isn’t keen on them either- hopefully he doesn’t add further fuel there!

  • Completely agree that there is no debate. The scaremongering that goes on with this stuff is dangerous and frightening. And really stupid. Makes me angry. As if dealing with a new baby isn’t scary enough without having to worry about people infecting your baby with vaccine-preventable diseases.

    • Exactly- already a stressful time- why make it harder?

  • To get vaccinated or not shouldn’t even be a choice as it puts other members of society at risk. Unless families want their kids to live inside their own homes for the rest of their lives without being exposed to members of the humans species, this is not up for argument. Gah!

    Sorry…apparently, I have my ranty-pants on this morning. You mentioned Sarah Wilson and I saw red. 😛

    I think you’ve as always created a sensible post and encouraged people to just do what most people would around medical issues — talk to you medically-trained doctor.

    • I’m loathe to remove the choice but just wish it was a choice based on fact, not fear and lies. So frustrating!

  • That seriously pissed me off watching the other day! Elke and Sally were just totally hedging their bets, they clearly didn’t want to alienate any of their viewers, my first thought was that they have friends who are anti-vax and they didn’t want to offend them. Stupid. They’re in a position of influence, and they need to be clear about what they’re saying. I think Sunrise should stop using vaccination as a topic for these segments because it just fuels the illusion that there is a ‘debate’. Clearly they do it for the ratings and the ongoing social media attention. But, as you say, if one person watches this fluff and decides that vaccination isn’t for them, then PEOPLE WILL DIE!!

  • Sorry Elke was a terrific swimmer, but I really disagree with her views on most things not just this one… Word have the power to be dangerous and vaccination is something that we all need to be on the same page about.

  • I reckon those ‘angels’ mostly just try to sit on the fence BUT sitting on this fence, as you so brilliantly pointed out, can be a very dangerous thing.

    • They do. It just gets me hot under the collar when it should be a clear cut issue!

  • I whole-heartedly agree! There should be no debate!

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    I could not agree more. Why is this still an issue and still a cause for “debate”?

  • Well put! What they are doing (in promoting ‘doing your research’ or promoting anti-vaccination views) is dangerous, plain and simple.
    I put an article up on my personal facebook page about Riley’s death by whooping cough as I’m currently pregnant and will be asking all family members to have their whooping cough booster before coming near my baby. I thought this would be a gentle way of starting that conversation.
    Instead my sister-in-law decided to get on her high horse about me asking people to have their booster before meeting my baby saying that I can’t protect them against the world so basically why bother. Her attitude absolutely gobsmacked me given she is generally a pro-vaccination person, and it is these ‘debates’ on fluffy morning shows like this that add barriers to even reasonable people thinking they need to take this seriously.
    We need so much more education on how vaccination works and why it is important, given that people don’t get the concept they need to be vaccinated again as adults to help protect newborns, and thats what these shows should be concentrating on if they want to be using their position in the media responsibly. Not giving airtime to some crap that is indefensible.

  • Not much gets me angry. But this vaccine scaremongering BS really gets under my skin. I don’t even know why they were discussing it on sunrise what they should have done was have a doctor or scientist educating people . Children in the third world countries are dying from vaccine preventable diseases, and we have the privilege of vaccinating our kids for free. Great post Amy !

    • The issue of privilege is an interesting one isn’t it- we have the privilege of not vaccinating while others are still suffering polio and diptheria and measles. Terrible!

  • Babies have died and they’re still pretending there is a debate. I’m with you, I think it’s irresponsible of Sunrise. I’m not condoning what Sarah Wilson said, quite the opposite, but I do think it’s irresponsible for these shows to put people in who have no reason to have an accurate opinion. Sarah Wilson had never had to ponder the point and to be frank, until I had suddenly had a newborn in my arms I hadn’t thought about the whole thing. Why not put experts in? Oh, wait, then there wouldn’t be a debate.

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    As per usual I love reading your posts. I missed the debate on sunrise and loved watching here as the looks on the girls faces is priceless. Don’t argue to something without have all the facts. And if you don’t have children stay out of it unless you are in the industry because you are just trying to stir up emotions

    • Thanks Natalie and I agree- why raise the “do your research” line when clearly you haven’t done so?

  • This is something I have written about before – whether we like it or not … if we’re someone with a platform (a blogger with 1000 followers or a social commentator on a program that 200,000 people watch) we have to think very carefully about what things we lend credence too. Elka and Sally may have been trying to come across as ‘not judgey’ for example because maybe in the past they’ve been lambasted for being ‘judgey’. But as you say, in this situation, there is a no debate. Kids are dying from other kids not being vaccinated. So this is a situation where they needed to not be sitting on the fence. But … I will say that it’s hard to get it right all the time.

    • You’re right Kelly, I can see that might have been the case and it is hard to get it right all the time. I just feel that this issue is so clear cut- vaccination has been well studied, developed over decades and decades- we KNOW it works, we KNOW the risk is tiny- so why are we encouraging people to look at things that say otherwise when it isn’t true and is detrimental to our whole society?

  • The Vinyl Edition

    There is a reason these vaccinations are free, and that there is a Centrelink payment when they are completed. Obviously it is crucial to immunise the herd. There is one thing I’ve always wondered – when I enrolled my kids at school I had to provide proof that their immunisations were up to date. So what happens when somebody doesn’t provide the proof because they haven’t done the vaccinations? Obviously they don’t keep them out of school, so …?

    • The have to provide a conscientious objection form signed by a doctor. Basically it is the doctor saying that he/she has explained all the risks and relevant info but the parent still refuses. Then if there is any outbreak of infectious disease, the unvaccinated kids are excluded from school for a certain period. Which is great except there are diseases that are contagious days before symptoms appear. So it’s really too little, too late.

  • I saw that segment and was so disgusted! I couldnt believe two out of three panelists on that show supported anti-vacers! I couldnt believe how ‘uneducated’ her statements were! The choice you not vaccinate your kids may be your choice, but when your unvaccinated child has a potentially deadly disease and is around babies too young to be vaccinated, you have take the choice away from them. If you want to not vaccinate your kids then be prepared to have them quarantined from the rest of society who didnt chose to receive a potentially deadly disease from your child. Rant over 🙂

    • That’s how it came across, didn’t it? I’m all for parents having a right to choose- based on FACT, not on lies and fear. If you remove the fear and conspiracies, who would choose not to vax? Only those with medical reasons- which is as is it should be.

  • I don’t watch TV anymore for primarily this reason, they are getting beyond ridiculous and I cannot believe that anyone takes anything that they say seriously. People need to use some common sense and we just might survive.

  • Grace

    I dropped Sunrise as any reliable news source years ago. Kochie just winds me up and this whole Kochie’s Angels segment is pathetic beyond words. I’m living in one of these areas wherethe percentage of anti vaccination is significantly high. Sarah Wilson’s argument about richer parents being more educated is hog wash. I can’t believe people take that crap at face value.
    I can turn that argument and say that the rich parents are delusional and are completely out of touch with the realities of public health and social responsibility.