A number of Melbourne doctors are under investigation for helping families avoid compulsory vaccinations, the government confirms.
At least three Melbourne doctors are being investigated by the Victorian Health Department and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for supporting the anti-vaccination movement, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told media on Thursday.
"If it is accurate that there are registered doctors who are advocating an anti-vaccination position, then they will have the full force of the authorities come down on them," he said.
"But let us be absolutely clear, there will be no sympathy, none at all from the government if the authorities take the strongest possible decisions.
Mr Hunt said he was "astonished that there are any people who have been through medical degrees who would ...stoop to the level of supporting the anti-vaccination movement".
Concerns one investigation 'not yet concluded'
A Melbourne doctor filmed boasting about exempting 600 children from vaccinations "must be stopped", Victoria's Acting Health Minister Martin Foley says.
Dr John Piesse has been filmed speaking at a Melbourne anti-vaccination rally about how he gets children exemptions from compulsory vaccinations.
He is one of three Melbourne doctors being investigated by the Victorian Health Department and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
But Victoria's Acting Health Minister, Martin Foley, said it was "not good enough" that Dr Piesse was still being investigated after concerns were raised about him in August 2016.
"It is deeply disappointing and concerning that after twelve months an investigation into Dr Piesse's practice has not yet been concluded by AHPRA," Mr Foley said on Thursday.
"Anyone who purports to support the quackery of the anti-vaccination movement places the lives of children and the health of the wider community at risk."
Dr Lorraine Baker, the Australia Medical Association Victoria president, agreed.
"We would hope AHPRA [the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency] would expedite their investigation into these doctors.
"We remain concerned that in many cases the investigations that take place through AHPRA seem unnecessarily long.
In a video from an anti-vaccination event published by the Herald Sun, Dr Piesse explains how he tries to beat the "no jab no play laws".
"I am a doctor who has been working hard for 18 months to try and help parents get exemption from 'vaccinated pain for vaccinated play', with mixed success," he says.
"You need a doctor's letter of contrary indication in the right form, provided the doctor has got the qualifications required for 'no vax no pay', or is a registered medical practitioner for 'no vax no play'."
Melbourne surgeon and vaccination advocate Dr John Cunningham told 3AW some doctors had fallen into a "cult" of "misinformation".
"What I believe these doctors are doing is signing a form saying these children have a medical contraindication to vaccination... which is very rare to have," he said.
- with Manny Tsigas and AAP