The head of the Paediatric Society says a controversial anti-vaccination film puts New Zealand children at risk.
Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe premiered in Auckland in New Lynn on Saturday afternoon. It claims the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is dangerous and causes autism, based on fraudulent research the film's director published in the 1990s.
It also claims the medical establishment has covered up evidence of the damage vaccines do.
Paediatric Society president David Newman says parents are still being caught out by the film's debunked claims.
"I understand that parents who make these choices passionately want to protect their children from harm, and because of their anxiety, make a choice that is not supported by the scientific evidence," he told Newshub.
Dr Newman says it's insulting to the medical profession that people think they can all be deceived in such a way.
"I think it is insulting and indeed ludicrous to claim that the medical community could be hoodwinked at a global level for very long."
He says if an overwhelming majority of people are vaccinated it protects those who can't be, due to allergies, health or their age. This is known as 'herd immunity'. It prevents disease from easily finding a new host.
"It is possible that people will not get their child vaccinated because of this [film]," says Dr Newman. "That puts their child at risk, and it puts the community at risk."
"This is a debate that needs to happen," promoter Truly Godfrey told Newshub. "There's some pretty serious allegations about fraud and cover-up."
The screening's organiser Tracey Livingston insists the film shows the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is dangerous.
"We'd like full informed consent - we should only have safe vaccines in New Zealand. These vaccines have been shown to be unsafe," she told Newshub.
"We think that actually, the risk to benefit ratio is completely off. If we only had safe vaccines, that would make more sense."
Ms Livingston said it was a coincidence the screening coincided with World Autism Day.
"The movie is scare-mongering," says Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner. "The science around MMR is very clear. It's an excellent vaccine, it's a horrible disease."
There is no scientific evidence at all vaccines cause autism. The claims originate from a fraudulent research paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield, the director of Vaxxed.
It was later discovered Mr Wakefield had manipulated evidence and had various conflicts of interest. He was later struck off the medical register.
His fraud was described as "the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years" in a 2011 journal article.