NSHA slams planned screening of anti-vaccination film in Halifax

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has slammed the planned screening of an anti-vaccination film in Halifax on Friday.

In a tweet issued on Thursday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) called the planned screening of Vaxxed II: The People’s Truth, “a marketing tool for vaccine misinformation.”

“The science is clear – vaccines are safe and effective,” read the tweet.

READ MORE: Halifax will not cancel screening of anti-vaccination movie later this month

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The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has previously told Global News that it will not cancel the upcoming screening of the movie at the LeBrun Recreation Centre.

“After the booking, it came to the municipality’s attention that the individual was representing an organization,” Maggie-Jane Spray said in an email last week.

“The municipality was not aware of this viewing when the space was booked and the contract signed.”

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Staff with the HRM later determined that, based on the terms and conditions of the contract, the screening will go ahead.

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The film, Vaxxed II: The People’s Truth, is billed as “an exploration into a possible link between various vaccinations and illness, injury, and death.”

The movie premiered in secret screenings across the U.S. in November. Many groups have spoken out against the film, which is being shown in select movie theatres in Canada, saying it promotes the unfounded claim that vaccines cause autism or other developmental problems referred to as “vaccine injuries.”

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Multiple studies, including one that involved nearly every child born in Denmark over an 11-year period, have shown that there is no link between autism and vaccination.

The original study that sparked the debunked claim was published in the journal the Lancet in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism.

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The publication of the study led to a widespread increase in the number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children for fear of its link to autism.

But Wakefield’s findings have since been widely rejected and the Lancet formally retracted the study in 2010, citing serious flaws and an undisclosed conflict of interest.

READ MORE: How a decades old, fraudulent anti-vaccine study still affects public health

The NSHA has now joined autism advocates and Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health in condemning the film.

Last week, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, stressed there is no evidence linking vaccines to autism and that anti-vaccine falsehoods have been around for decades.

“As a public health professional but also as a citizen of HRM, it does raise questions about a municipal facility being used to disseminate information which is clearly false,” Strang told Global News on Tuesday.

“I’m well aware of the content of this film, it’s clearly in the anti-vaccination camp and it’s not evidence-based in any way, shape or form.”

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The NSHA recommends that Nova Scotians check out immunize.ca for “credible information” on vaccines.

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A protest is planned outside the LeBrun Recreation Centre on Friday.

— With files from Global News’ Leslie Young and Alexa MacLean 

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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