Parents on the run with baby after refusing vaccination
Kate Benson Medical Reporter
August 23, 2008
A SYDNEY couple was on the run with their two-day-old baby last night after the Department of Community Services took out a Supreme Court order to have the boy vaccinated against hepatitis B.
The parents, from Croydon Park, fled their home on Thursday to avoid police and DOCS officers after they refused to have their son vaccinated at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. They told the Herald yesterday that they believed aluminium in the vaccine could cause him more damage than contracting hepatitis B.
The child's mother, from China, was diagnosed with hepatitis B several years ago, but both parents believe the illness, which can cause liver cancer and cirrhosis, can be managed more effectively than any potential neurological damage from the vaccine.
Vaccinations are not compulsory in Australia but it is NSW Health policy that parents of all babies born to hepatitis-B-positive mothers are offered immunoglobulin for the child within 12 hours of birth and four doses of the vaccine over six months.
The father, a financial adviser who is seeking an injunction against the court order, said he was told by doctors and midwives on the post-natal ward that they would be arrested and lose custody of their child if he left the hospital without having the vaccination.
The man said he and his wife had then left the hospital on Wednesday after agreeing to visit a GP, accompanied by a DOCS officer, on Thursday to get more information about the risks involved. But when the father failed to show up at 4pm at an Ashfield medical centre, he was told DOCS was removing the baby from his care for immediate vaccination.
"We gathered some things and fled the house," he said yesterday.
"My wife is tired. She's just given birth and we are on the run with a newborn and a three-year-old. The tactics that have been pulled so far are unbelievable."
The court order, obtained late on Thursday after a DOCS officer found the house deserted, states the baby needed to be vaccinated by midnight that day, but the father is adamant he will stay on the run indefinitely.
"I don't agree with the one-size-fits-all policy. He is a small baby [2.49kg] and they give the same dose to babies twice his size. I just wanted time to get more information about the vaccine."
But he admitted he had also refused to have his daughter vaccinated for hepatitis B after her birth in 2005 and has not had her screened for the illness since. His father, who is a member of the Australian Vaccination Network, which lobbies against compulsory vaccinations for children, said humans were incapable of breaking down aluminium and the vaccinations presented "a lot of dangers and lot of big questions marks".
But David Isaacs, a professor in pediatric infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital at Westmead and one of the doctors who contacted DOCs, said the case had angered staff because the baby's rights were being ignored.
"I am a strong believer in vaccinations being voluntary but not getting this baby vaccinated is a form of child abuse," he said. "We are talking a potentially major and awful outcome for this child and it is our job to protect children when they can't make decisions for themselves."
Professor Isaacs said the baby had a 5 to 40 per cent chance of contracting hepatitis B from its mother and "about 30 per cent of people with hepatitis B will develop cancer or cirrhosis and die young … I don't understand why these people are willing to sacrifice their child for a warped idea when the benefits far outweigh the risks."
The case will be back in court on Monday.
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/08/22/1219262525169.html