The wife of an AFL legend whose son almost died of a rare disease has blasted footy WAGs for using their platform to promote anti-vaccination agendas.
Mother-of-two Felicity Harley, the wife of former Geelong star Tom Harley, slammed ‘irresponsible’ public figures for pushing the ‘anti-vaxxer’ movement.
She shared the heartbreaking story of how her son Hugo almost died from meningococcal at only five weeks old, saying it was the ‘worst day of her life’.
Felicity Harley (pictured), the wife of AFL legend Tom Harley, has slammed social media personalities who use their influence to promote anti-vaccination ‘propaganda’
Mrs Harley (pictured with Tom) said her son’s survival against meningococcal B made her a strong believer in vaccination
She was crying uncontrollably while Tom was stone silent, both fearing the worst as their little boy lay almost lifeless in hospital
Her son survived Meningococcal B – an infection that kills one in every ten diagnosed with it – against all odds after bacteria made its way into his spinal cord and brain.
Taking to her personal social media account, Mrs Harley wrote that his survival of the disease made her a strong believer in vaccinating.
‘This is why I get ANGRY when influencers are on front pages of newspapers & declare they don’t vaccinate their kids,’ she wrote.
‘The anti-vaxx movement is the biggest threat to our global health.’
Her explosive comments come a day after the wife of NRL player Frank Winterstein made headlines for promoting her $200-a-head anti-vaccination workshops.
Taylor Winterstein, a wellness-blogger with nearly 16,000 followers on Instagram, claimed parents were ‘bullied and pressured by doctors’ into immunising their kids.
Penning a column for Whimn, Mrs Harley said social media influencers like Taylor had a responsibility to their followers not to push ‘social propaganda’.
She penned a column, saying other wives and girlfriends of football players need to take accountability for the messages they send to their followers
The column comes after it was revealed Manly Sea Eagles player Frank Winterstein (right) and his wellness-blogger wife Taylor (left) don’t vaccinate their two children Ziggy and Hendrix
She said that Taylor’s workshops, called ‘Making Informed Decisions’, ran the risk of misinforming parents to the detriment of their children’s health.
‘Taylor has every right to weigh-up the big risks for her own two kids. Worryingly, her decision increases the risks for our kids, too,’ she wrote.
She said the $200 admission fee for the workshops was ludicrous, and questioned how Taylor planned on dismissing decades of medical research.
‘Will she actually present both sides? Where are her facts? What is her formal education in this space? If her kids aren’t vaccinated, then what’s her true intention?’
‘The ideological anti-vaxx movement has little evidence to support their claims. Time and time again, studies prove the absolute opposite.’
Referencing a recent university-led study, Mrs Harley said the ‘number one predictor of a mum’s views about vaccinations’ came from social influencers.
‘Influencers need to be extra careful about the health advice they dish out – it needs to be fully backed by research and expert opinion,’ she said.
Mrs Winterstein’s ‘Making Informed Choices’ workshop will be touring across Australia, New Zealand and Samoa from March until July. Tickets cost $200 each
Mrs Winterstein (pictured) claims parents are ‘bullied’ and ‘pressured’ by doctors to give their children vaccinations
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Mrs Winterstein described herself as an ‘ex-vaxxer’, saying she was determined to raise awareness for ‘vaccine injury’.
‘Vaccines are not safe and effective for everyone, a ”one size fits all” schedule does not fit all bio-individual children and where there is risk there must always be choice.’
‘The benefits of vaccines are constantly over-exaggerated and the risk of an adverse reaction severely downplayed by politicians, journalists and GPs,’ an invitation to her workshop reads.
She claimed extensive testing of vaccinations in Australia had not been carried out.
Mrs Winterstein said many other wives and girlfriends of NRL players had similar views to her.
‘The amount of NRL players and their partners who consciously choose not to vaccinate would seriously surprise you,’ she posted to Instagram.
‘I know for a fact there are many high-profile, ”influencers” on social media among the sport and wellness industry, who do not vaccinate their children but won’t publicly share their beliefs.’
Mother-of-two Shanelle Cartwright (left) said her and her husband Bryce Cartwright (right) have not immunised their children and ‘don’t trust hospitals’
Gold Coast Titans star Bryce Cartwright’s wife Shanelle has publicly said she does not believe in vaccinating her children or having them wear nappies.
The young mother said she and Cartwright had not vaccinated their son, would not use nappies for their second child and ‘don’t trust hospitals’.
Mrs Cartwright said instead of vaccinating she and her husband focused on the ‘gut health’ of their youngsters by ‘exclusively breastfeeding’ for the first six months.
The Cartwrights and Wintersteins were pictured spending time together over the Christmas holidays at Currumbin, Queensland.
The dangers of being unvaccinated
Immunisation is an effective way of protecting people from harmful, contagious diseases.
Before vaccination campaigns in the 1960s and 70s, diseases like tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough killed thousands of children.
Immunisation also protects the whole community, preventing the spread of the disease – known as ‘herd immunity’.
Vaccination can cause a disease to die out altogether – as was the case when smallpox was eradicated in 1980 after a vaccination campaign led by the World Health Organisation.
Vaccination rates are at over 93 per cent for five-year-olds in Australia.
Source: Australian Department of Health
Unvaccinated children are banned from enrolling in preschool in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland under the ‘no jab, no play’ laws.
At a federal level, the Australian government has previously introduced laws that link immunisations to benefit payments available to families.
If a family does not fully immunise their children up to the age of 19, they will not be able to claim the full amount of family tax benefit or child care benefits.
Health authorities warn anti-vaxxers threaten the public’s ‘herd immunity’ against disease.
‘Immunisation is a safe and effective way to protect you and your children from harmful, contagious diseases. It also safeguards the health of other people, now and for future generations,’ the Australian government’s health department says.
‘Before vaccination campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s, diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough killed thousands of children. Today, it is extremely rare to die from these diseases in Australia.’
Between one and two per cent of parents across New South Wales refuse to vaccinate their children.
The Cartwrights and Wintersteins were pictured spending time together over the Christmas holidays at Currumbin, Queensland