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Vaccination: objections to your conscientious objection

By Martin Bouckaert - posted Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Pretend for a moment you’re a doctor. Your job requires you to be in close contact with very sick people every day. Every day you see dozens of patients who have (or think they have) one thing or another wrong with them; something they feel requires a doctor’s precious time and training to examine and diagnose.

Today, you’ve diagnosed three cases of pertussis (or whooping cough). You need to be alert for more, because they may require more care than you can really provide with your own limited facilities.

Your first patient after lunch is a mother who wants to discuss her young son’s vaccines. You call her into your office and invite her to sit. As she does, you begin speaking.


“So, you want to talk about you son’s vaccines?”

“Yes,” she replies. “Actually, I’m already quite educated on vaccines. I just need you to sign a form for me stating that I’m aware of the risks of not vaccinating.”

She pulls out a neatly folded piece of paper and hands it to you with a pen.

You take the paper in your hand and unfold it. It is the government’s official conscientious objector form. You place the form on your desk and you…Complete that sentence in your own mind.

I interviewed a local GP on this matter. She’s often encountered this conundrum, but, she told me, one incident in particular secured her steely resolve to stand firm on the issue of vaccination.

Last year, she spent the better part of a morning tending to three cases of pertussis in children under 10 years of age. Two were relatively mild, but still terribly uncomfortable. One required hospitalisation. The child survived, but may have suffered some complications. None of the three children had been vaccinated.


What came next on this particular day was a mother demanding she sign a conscientious objection form to exempt her five year old from vaccines.

Upon taking the form from this mother, the GP attempted to do her job. She tried to go into the required explanation of risks and benefits, but this mother would have none of it. She persistently cut the doctor off with a diatribe on dangerous chemical ingredients, harmful side-effects and government conspiracies, eventually settling for a belligerent, “Are you going to sign the form, or not?”

“Not until I’m sure you fully understand the dangers of refusing to vaccinate,” the doctor told her.

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About the Author

Martin Bouckaert had been involved with the Stop the AVN on Facebook. Martin is currently studying journalism at Griffith University.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Martin Bouckaert

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