Dr. Lance O'Sullivan warned an audience of health professionals during a screening of the film "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe" not to watch the movie in Kaitaia, New Zealand, on May 22.
O'Sullivan, who was named New Zealander of the Year in 2014, told audience members that they were placing the lives of young people at risk, notes the New Zealand Herald:
I've come here not to watch the film, but to continue my battle and my challenge for my people and, importantly, for our children.
I come here with a lot of anger because I am adamantly opposed to this. This idea of anti-immunization has killed children around the world, and actually will continue to kill children whose parents are put off immunization because of misinformation, misinformation based on lies, quite frankly.
Fraudulent people for their own reasons have decided that they would put forward false information that actually causes harm to children... Your presence here will cause babies to die.
In response to O'Sullivan's protest, the Warning Against Vaccination Expectation group posted a message on social media: "Trina Cheel [the film organizer] was verbally attacked, bullied and threatened by Lance O'Sullivan at the Vaxxed screening last night. Dr Lance O'Sullivan came into the cinema under false pretences of watching the movie," notes News Now.
Film database IMDB describes the movie thusly: "A documentary alleging that the CDC, the government agency charged with protecting the health of American citizens, destroyed data on their 2004 study that allegedly showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism."
According to IMDB, the film's director is Andrew Wakefield, who is generally recognized as the catalyst for the anti-vaccine movement. Huffington Post UK reported in February that Wakefield is a former medical researcher and gastroenterologist who published a study that linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism in the U.K. medical journal The Lancet in 1998.
The Lancet retracted the study in 2000 after the U.K.'s General Medical Council ruled that Wakefield acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in his study.
Wakefield insisted the allegations were unfair, and moved to the U.S., where he has been a leader in the anti-vaxxer movement.
Huffington Post UK noted that Wakefield’s film alleges that the CDC engaged in a conspiracy to hide the "true" reason for rising rates of autism diagnoses.
The CDC, the non-profit Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization have all said that vaccines do not cause autism.
Sources: New Zealand Herald, IMDB, News Now, Huffington Post UK / Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Wikimedia Commons