Vaccination skeptics hold secret screening of 'Vaxxed'

Vaccination skeptics hold secret screening of 'Vaxxed'

The Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network is planning a screening of the controversial film Vaxxed at a secret location in Canberra this month.

The documentary film is directed by Andrew Wakefield, a former doctor whose debunked study was central to the anti-vaccination movement.

Movie Vaxxed. From cover up to catastrophe. Showing at Castlemaine cinema

Movie Vaxxed. From cover up to catastrophe. Showing at Castlemaine cinema

The controversial 1998 research paper focused on a link between measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism was published and then later retracted by the medical journal Lancet.

Vaxxed: From Cover Up to Catastrophe has generated intense public criticism since its initial release in the USA in April 2016.

Andrew Wakefield.

Andrew Wakefield.Credit:Peter MacDiarmid/Getty

It was axed from several events both internationally and in Australia, including the New York based Tribeca Film Festival and Victoria's Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival (CLIFF) in 2016.

Screenings worldwide have sparked debate about whether it is right to give a platform to something that has the capacity to affect public safety.

However the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network contends the documentary "is not anti-vaccination" but is rather an investigation into an alleged cover-up by the US Centre of Disease control.

The event website states due to "well-orchestrated threats of violence and abuse that come from the pro-censorship community" ticket holders will be sent location details two hours beforehand.

Screen grab of the ticketing portal for the 'Vaxxed' secret screening in Canberra.

Screen grab of the ticketing portal for the 'Vaxxed' secret screening in Canberra.Credit:Georgina Connery

Mr Wakefield will field questions from the crowd in a live Skype session after the screening set to be held on Monday, July 31.

Following the question and answer session, organising staff will be collecting "vaccine injury stories" from those in attendance here in Canberra, and at nine similar events along the east coast.

ACT health minister Meegan Fitzharris said decades of research had shown no causal link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

She said overwhelming evidence demonstrated the public and individual benefits of immunisation.

"I feel very confident our public health approach and encouragement of immunisation stacks up against any discredited medical journal or former medical practitioner," she said.

The minister said in a free democracy some people would "promulgate alternative views" yet uptake rates showed most people in Canberra and across Australia were looking at wealth of trusted advice about immunisation and making sensible choices for their families.

Rates of immunisation for children under five years old in the ACT were among the highest in the country and the health directorate saw numbers increases each year.

"We see the ACT consistently being above the national average," she said.

"For the last 12 months, 95 per cent of one-year-olds, 92 per cent of two-year-olds and 94 per cent of five-year-olds are fully immunised."

"I would be very reluctant to take health advice from a de-registered doctor," Ms Fitzharris said.

"The community generally gets it, they are generally very smart. Most parents think it through, talk to their GP or midwife about the benefits and make their own decisions, good decisions about immunising their own kids."

Georgina is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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