A parent whose children attend a Montessori school in regional New South Wales said she was “gobsmacked” to receive an invitation from the school’s founders to an “exciting” webinar held by a macrobiotic food enthusiast, who would teach them how to boost their immunity so they could “choose not to take” the Covid-19 vaccination.
The email was sent by Donna McCulloch, a co-founder of the Thomas More Christian Montessori school in Bega, and said: “a world renown [sic] Marcobiology [sic] Consultant who is a personal friend of mine … is giving important seminars via Zoom from Stockholm”.
“I asked him if he would give one for our parents,” the email, which was sent to all parents on 3 June, said.
“He graciously accepted. This is an opportunity that you will not want to miss. The first part of the presentation is about natural immunity and the benefit of good health in the crisis.
“Then he goes on to the vaccine. He gives people the info needed for preparing for the jab and what to do after receiving it for those who have needed to make this choice. He also instructs people on the benefits of natural immunity showing how one can choose not to take the jab.”
McCulloch went on to write: “We have only gotten 2 responses thus far” and urged parents to register and to “please send $20 cash to the office and we will send you the zoom link”.
A parent who spoke to Guardian Australia said upon receiving the email, “How I felt is hard to describe.
“Gobsmacked is the best world I can come up with,” she said. “It just seemed so wrong that our school should promote the idea that there’s an alternative to vaccination.”
Another parent said he was “angry that an educational establishment is spreading dangerous misinformation”.
A professor of viral immunology at Murdoch University, Cassandra Berry, said while it was always a good idea to strengthen the immune system through a healthy diet, there was no stronger way to boost the immune system to protect against Covid-19 than getting vaccinated.
“We are all immune-naive to this coronavirus, which means we’ve never been exposed to it before and we don’t have any immune memory to that particular specific virus,” she said.
No diet could create this immune memory, she said.
“If we were to play Russian roulette, and be exposed to the virus, some of us may not even know we’re being infected and have no symptoms, some might have mild disease, and some might have very severe disease and end up in ICU and even potentially die from it. So why would you take that risk if we have these great, cleverly designed vaccines that have gone through clinical trials? They have been designed specifically to boost your immune memory.”
Healthy people with seemingly strong immune systems could also become severely unwell, or spread the virus to vulnerable people, she said.
She said any effects of vaccination such as a sore arm or fever was not a sign of a weak immune system but a sign that the immune system was working and responding as it should. These side effects of vaccinations could not be transmitted to others, she said.
“You don’t need to do anything peculiar after vaccination,” Berry said. “Obviously, listen to your body, there can be side effects and you may be a bit of achy, so just rest and listen to your body. But you’re not infectious, you’re not contagious after the vaccine. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, how healthy you are, you may get side effects.”
Berry said she felt the founders of Thomas More Christian Montessori school “probably think they are helping”.
“In hindsight, I hope they realise they should stick to sharing government and other official health websites,” she said.
When asked by Guardian Australia how many parents attended the webinar, McCulloch responded, “a couple”. She said she was not aware of Australia’s drugs regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), or its compliance regulations on communicating vaccine information. The TGA states information on Covid-19 vaccines must be “consistent with current commonwealth health messaging regarding the national Covid-19 vaccination”.
Guardian Australia asked McCulloch why the webinar included information on how to “not take the jab”, given healthy people could transmit the virus to others, including to teachers and those with health conditions. There is also no policy in Australia that makes the vaccination mandatory.
McCulloch said “what it was meant to do is cover every option, whether you’ve taken the vaccine, or need to take it, or choose not to take it”.
“People still have a choice not to take it or to boost their immune system naturally,” she said. “What the webinar was supposed to do was cover every option.”