Anti-vax billboard to be removed after more than 140 complaints

  • 02/10/2018

A large anti-vaccination billboard on Auckland's southern motorway will be taken down after more than 140 complaints were made about it in the day since it was erected.  

The sign was put up beside the Ōtahuhu off ramp by the Warnings About Vaccine Expectations (WAVES NZ) on October 1.

The billboard shows a man holding a baby and asks: "If you knew the ingredients in a vaccine, would you RISK it?"

Chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Hilary Souter confirmed the significant number of complaints had been received.

She told Newshub the ASA's Codes of Practice apply to all advertising in all media and that they have requested a response from the advertiser.

"The ad, the complaints and the response will be put before the nine member complaints board for determination," Ms Souter said.

"We ask advertisers, agencies and media companies to create and place advertisements in light of code requirements."

WAVES NZ defended the billboard on its Facebook page, stating that the billboard "poses the question of whether or not people would vaccinate if they knew what vaccines contained, as many parents aren't aware of the contents of a vaccine".

WAVES NZ spokesperson Truly Godfrey says: "In the wake of the tragic deaths of two babies in Samoa and the revelations that no safety reports have been provided since 1986 in the United States, despite government agencies being tasked with doing so we are asking [would you risk it]."

The sign was posted beside Auckland's southern motorway near the Otahuhu off ramp.
The sign was posted beside Auckland's southern motorway near the Otahuhu off ramp. Photo credit: WAVES

On another post, it says it has not breached any advertising guidelines as the billboard simply "poses a question".

"All parents have the right to an assessment of the expected risks, side effect and benefits. Code of Health and Disability Services, Consumer Rights," WAVES said.

A Counties Manukau District Health Board spokeswoman told Stuff the DHB had no direct relationship with the billboard.

"We do not support anti-vaccine messages," the spokeswoman said. "We promote vaccination as a proven step to prevent illness in both children and adults."