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Advice re fraudulent request for removal of National Immunisation Program posters from general practices

A video has recently been uploaded to YouTube by a representative from a group based in Melbourne, purporting to be a Commonwealth official entering a general practice requesting the removal of posters promoting vaccination under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). The representative provided reception staff with what appears to be a print out of the Therapeutic Goods Administration website regarding advertising standards and guidelines, requesting the removal of the posters.

The Department of Health has provided the following statement:

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has strict processes in place for regulating site visits and authorised officers from the TGA will present photographic identification cards on entering the site.

There are criminal offences for impersonating Commonwealth public officials (Criminal Code Act 1995, Division 148). The Department takes all matters of impersonation seriously.

The Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act) prohibits advertising prescription medicines (including vaccines) to the public. However, there are exceptions to this requirement where authorised or required by a government or government authority. Any of the posters relating to vaccines and vaccinations visible in the video produced and sanctioned by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Immunisation Program will not contravene the Act.

The Act also prohibits the advertising of therapeutic goods to the public using references to serious forms of diseases and conditions (including influenza and whooping cough) without the TGA’s permission. However, the TGA has granted permission for the use of such references in Australian Government materials.

Clinics and health professionals sometimes choose to produce their own materials to promote their services, including vaccination services. The risk with this approach is that the materials may promote therapeutic goods in addition to the services. In such cases, the TGA recommends that the focus be on promoting the services being offered. The TGA has published advice on how to do this without promoting vaccines or other types of therapeutic goods that might be involved. Read more

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