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Australia

Australia bars entry to ‘world's no. 1 anti-vaxxer’ who planned book tour

Kent Heckenlively’s proposed trip came amid efforts by Australia to boost child vaccination rates

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 1:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 11:08pm

An American who describes himself as the “world’s #1 anti-vaxxer” has been barred from entering Australia, officials said Thursday, in a further crackdown on the anti-immunisation movement after outbreaks of preventable diseases.

Kent Heckenlively had outlined plans to travel to Australia in December as part of a “Dangerous Science” tour to promote his books and detail efforts to push for a five-year moratorium on childhood vaccines in the US.

His proposed trip came amid efforts by Canberra to boost child vaccination rates, including a “no jab, no pay” law to block parents who refuse to vaccinate their offspring from accessing some government benefits.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Heckenlively, who wrote “I am the world’s #1 anti-vaxxer” in an online blog, would be blocked from the country.

It’s clear to me that it’s not in our national interest that he should come here
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton

“Kent’s not got any travel plans to Australia because we’re not going to allow him to come here,” he said.

“These people who are telling parents that their kids shouldn’t be vaccinated are dangerous people ... it’s clear to me that it’s not in our national interest that he should come here.”

Australia’s Social Services Minister Christian Porter last year said immunisation rates had lifted since the introduction of “no jab, no pay”.

More than 5,700 children whose parents were receiving childcare payments and had previously registered as vaccination objectors had their children immunised, he said.

Australia has vaccination rates of over 90 per cent for those aged one to five.

The anti-vaccination movement has coincided with the resurgence of measles, a preventable disease, in some European countries as well as in parts of the United States.

Many people who do not vaccinate their children say they fear a triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella is responsible for increasing cases of autism – a theory repeatedly disproved by various studies.

A US study published in July warned that even a slight drop in the number of children receiving measles vaccinations could triple the number of cases of the disease.