Kent Heckenlively, US 'anti-vaxxer', denied Australian visa

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Childhood vaccinations are crucial to preventing diseases, experts say

A US author who bills himself as the "world's #1 anti-vaxxer" has been denied a visa to enter Australia for a speaking tour.

Kent Heckenlively had planned to visit Australia in December to call for a five-year ban on vaccinations.

Medical experts, including the World Health Organization, have repeatedly said that vaccinations are safe and vital to halting infectious diseases.

Australia gave bans to two other anti-vaccination advocates last month.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed that Mr Heckenlively would not be allowed to enter Australia, describing anti-vaccination advocates as "dangerous people".

"It is clear to me that it is not in our national interest that he should come here," Mr Dutton told local radio station 2GB.

Last month, British anti-vaccination campaigner Polly Tommey and Suzanne Humphreys from the US were banned from entering Australia for three years.

They had claimed a link between a vaccine and autism, an idea which has been overwhelmingly discredited by science.

Media caption,
The BBC's Alistair Leithead spoke to parents in California about their concerns

Vaccines can cause adverse reactions in a small number of people, like many medicines, but the accepted science is that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Widespread vaccination also reduces the risk of infection to those who, for medical reasons, may not be able to receive the vaccine themselves.

Earlier this year, Australia it would consider a childcare ban - dubbed a "no jab, no play" law - on children who had not been vaccinated.