Health Minister Greg Hunt says the film, which opposes the Gardasil vaccine, makes ‘false and reckless’ claims.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the film, which opposes the Gardasil vaccine, makes ‘false and reckless’ claims.

Anti-vaxxer packs in Aussie tour after visa stuff-up

THE maker of an anti-vaccination "documentary" to be aired in seven secret locations has cancelled her tour to Australia because her visa application wasn't determined in time.

This might be welcome news to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who has slammed British journalist Joan Shenton's controversial film, Sacrificial Virgins, ahead of its launch in Australia on Thursday.

The anti-vaccination film opposes the Gardasil vaccine, claims that human papillomavirus (HPV) it protects against does not cause cervical cancer and that the vaccine can cause "neurological damage".

Mr Hunt says that's rubbish, and the film spreads "false and reckless" claims.

Gardasil is administered free in Australia to boys and girls aged 10 and over as part of the National Immunisation Program and government's cancer prevention program.

"The science is in and the medical experts advice is absolute - vaccinations save lives and protect lives and they are an essential part of a healthy society," Mr Hunt told Fairfax when the Australia launch of the film was announced.

"I have no time for the false and reckless claims made by anti-vaxxers and I will continue call out their dangerous claims."

 

Joan Shenton has cancelled her trip to Australia. Picture: Supplied
Joan Shenton has cancelled her trip to Australia. Picture: Supplied

 

Meanwhile, the man behind the Gardasil vaccine, Australian scientist Ian Frazer, said the film was "fake news"; there was no evidence to support the claim HPV vaccine caused harm, and warned it may cause preventable deaths.

"Spreading fake news about vaccines can only lead to anxiety in parents and the community, and possibly loss of lives if young boys and girls are not vaccinated as a consequence," he said.

The Australian Vaccination-risks Network president Tasha David suggested Ms Shenton was "refused permission" to enter Australia because she was told last week her visa application had been taken out of the automated assessment procedure and was being "manually assessed" by the Department of Home Affairs.

With no answer before she was due to fly, she cancelled her trip.

Her visa remains "under consideration", a Home Affairs spokesperson told SBS.

The planned screenings in the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Byron Bay area and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will still go ahead, with Ms Shenton appearing via video link.

Promoters will not divulge the exact locations of the screenings. They will remain secret until ticketholders are told what the venue is two hours before the 30-minute film starts.

 

The immunologist behind the HPV vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer, says the film is ‘fake news’ and may even cause preventable deaths. Picture: News Corp
The immunologist behind the HPV vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer, says the film is ‘fake news’ and may even cause preventable deaths. Picture: News Corp