Lobby group withdraws online ad likening vaccination to rape

TOO FAR: An image likening vaccination to rape has been taken off Facebook after a barrage of complaints.
TOO FAR: An image likening vaccination to rape has been taken off Facebook after a barrage of complaints.

AN ONLINE advertisement equating vaccination to rape has met condemnation across the country.

Controversial lobby group the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network posted an image on its Facebook page showing a man aggressively covering a woman's mouth with his hand.

It likened vaccinations to "forced penetration".

The post has since been taken down after a slew of complaints.

It was not the first time the group has taken such a route. Four years ago, it described a court ordering a child's vaccination as "court-ordered rape".

The latest controversy was a response to the Federal Government's new "no jab, no pay" policy to strip childcare and family tax payments from parents who failed to vaccinate their children.

University of Sydney public health experts have called the plan "well intended" but say it will do little to lift vaccination rates among young children.

Associate Professor Julie Leask said Australia had high childhood vaccination rates - about 93% - but the numbers of registered "vaccination objectors" had risen in the past decade.

The number of children under the age of seven who were not vaccinated because of their parents' objections rose by 24,000 to 39,000 in the same period.

"The policy won't shift entrenched vaccine objectors," Assoc Prof Leask said."As a monetary sanction there is little evidence that it will lift vaccination rates, whereas Australia's current system of incentives comes with strong evidence for their impact on vaccination rates."

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