Good Morning Britain has been slammed for the segment — but a spokesman said it would still go ahead. Picture: iStock
Good Morning Britain has been slammed for the segment — but a spokesman said it would still go ahead. Picture: iStock

Outrage over show’s ‘dog autism’ segment

A BREAKFAST television program is under fire for planning an upcoming segment on whether animal vaccines cause "canine autism".

On April 24, Good Morning Britain, a popular morning show in the UK, posted a tweet which revealed it would be debating the controversial issue in an upcoming episode.

The tweet stated: "We're looking to speak to pet owners who haven't given their pets vaccinations because they're concerned about side effects - as well as people who have done so and now believe their pet has canine autism as a result."

In response to the message, the National Autistic Society (NAS) tweeted: "This is concerning. Research has comprehensively shown that there is no link between autism and vaccines in humans."

According to The Independent, the NAS has also directly contacted the program to voice its concerns.

NAS director of external affairs and social change Jane Harris told the publication "damaging myths about autism persist in some circles - and must be challenged".

She said the decision to air the segment could be seen as legitimising the mistaken belief in the link between inoculations and the condition.

"We were very disappointed to hear that a mainstream broadcaster would consider bringing autism into a story about vaccinations in this way," she said.

Other Twitter users joined the NAS in condemning the planned segment, with many claiming the segment was a misguided attempt to boost ratings, while others also argued it was "offensive" to people with autism.

However, there were some supporters, with a Twitter account belonging to "Boomer the Collie" stating: "I'm not vaccinated. I don't have flea treatments or wormers and I eat raw meat and bones. I'm six and the only times I've seen a vet was when I had a cut foot and a grass seed in my ear".

A Good Morning Britain spokesman told The Independent the segment would go ahead despite the backlash.

"There will be a debate about pet vaccinations in relation to recent figures showing a decline in the number of animals being vaccinated," the spokesman said.

"The item will reflect both a 'for' and 'against' vaccination standpoint."

The anti-vax movement was born in 1998 after former doctor Andrew Wakefield published a now-discredited study which argued the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine caused autism.

The study was withdrawn by The Lancet medical journal, but the movement has been growing ever since.

In fact, it is so widespread the government was prompted to introduce a "no jab no play" policy in 2015, which bans unvaccinated children from attending childcare in NSW and Victoria, while in Queensland childcare providers are allowed to refuse enrolment to kids who have not been immunised.

While vaccination rates have dropped in certain anti-vax communities, overall Australia's human vaccination rate is high.

Recent data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed immunisation rates have risen across Australia. Nationally, 93.5 per cent of five-year-olds were fully immunised in 2016-17, up from 92.9 per cent the previous year. The national target is 95 per cent.