'Time to declare war on anti-vaxxers'
NSW SHADOW Health Minister Walt Secord claims it's time to "declare war” on the anti-vaccination movement following the second case of diphtheria on the Northern Rivers in less than a year.
The North Coast Public Health Unit confirmed on Wednesday that a second case of the potentially fatal disease had appeared in an adult resident on the North Coast.
Another case was reported in January this year and was the first diagnosis of diphtheria in NSW since 2001.
Both cases have been on the Northern Rivers.
In the 1900s, diphtheria caused more deaths in Australia than any other infectious disease and was a common cause of death in children, but has now almost disappeared in Australia due to immunisation.
Mr Secord, who is also the North Coast Shadow Minister, told the Tweed Daily News he believed the increase in diphtheria cases had a "direct correlation” with the rise of the anti-vaxxer movement.
"For the first time in 17 years, we have diphtheria in NSW, that is unacceptable, there is a reason it was called the forgotten disease, everyone thought it was eradicated,” he said.
"I want to see the State and Federal government take a tougher stance on the anti-vaccination movement and I do support bipartisan moves to restrict unvaccinated children from childcare.
"It's completely irresponsible for parents to risk their child and other children to these potentially fatal diseases.”
In September of last year, the State Government introduced the "No Jab No Play policy”, which prevents unvaccinated children from attending childcare.
But Mr Secord said he wanted to see more vaccines available in pharmacies throughout NSW and it was time to "take the gloves off” and fight against parents who are not vaccinating their children.
"The State Government has been too timid to confront the anti-vaccination movement, we have a responsibility to fight them and counter their tactics," he said.
"In Africa, mothers line up for hours to vaccinate their children.”
Mr Secord said he would like to see the Department of Fair Trading get involved when anti-vaxxers promote misleading products, names and titles.
He said the diptheria outbreak meant the State Government had "completely failed” the community on vaccination rates.
"These cases should be setting off the alarm bells in the corridors of the NSW Government,” he said.
"The Berejiklian Government is failing the community on vaccinations and vaccination rates.”
He said the Tweed region had a relatively strong pro-vaccination movement, while "pockets” around the Byron Bay area had a strong anti-vaxx stance.
"Unfortunately there's a high anti-vaccination movement on pockets of the North Coast including around Byron Bay," he said.
"The Tweed itself has a strong pro-vaccination movement and is very responsible, the Mums out there know they have to vaccinate their children.”
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has been contacted for comment.