Sherri Tenpenny is an American osteopathic physician and anti-vaccination activist from Ohio. She supports the beliefs that vaccines cause autism, asthma, ADHD and autoimmune disorders. The author of four books on anti-vaccination, her 2015 lecture tour of Australia was cancelled due to public outcry over her views on vaccination which go against established scientific consensus.
Education and career
Tenpenny graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toledo in 1980, and subsequently received a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri in 1984. From 1986 to 1998, Tenpenny was the director of the emergency department at Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay, Ohio. She opened an osteopathic practice in 1994, and went on to establish two more such practices, in 1996 and 2011.
Planned tour to Australia and cancellations
In January 2015, the Kareela Golf and Social Club in Sydney, Australia cancelled a talk that Tenpenny had been scheduled to give there. A spokesperson for the club said that the subject matter Tenpenny was going to discuss was "too controversial for us to be involved in." Several other Australian venues followed suit soon afterward, which led Meryl Dorey of anti-vaccination lobby group the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network to compare opponents of Tenpenny's visits to Australia to the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. By January 19, all eight venues at which Tenpenny was originally scheduled to speak had cancelled her seminars, but her organizer, Stephanie Messenger, said that the tour was nevertheless set to continue. However, on 26 January Messenger announced the tour was cancelled. Tenpenny's views have been criticized by the on-line network 'Stop the Australian Vaccination Network', which has demanded that Peter Dutton, the Australian immigration minister, reject her visa; the Australian government has said it is considering a petition to do this. Australian medical doctors orthopaedic surgeon John Cunningham and Australian Medical Association's Council of General Practice chairman Dr Brian Morton have called on Dutton to cancel Tenpenny's Visa.
According to a Facebook post, tour organizer Stephanie Messenger stated the lecture series has been cancelled due to their inability to keep attendees safe, "pro-vaccine extremists had made continual, anonymous threats of vandalism and violence". Police were investigating these threats but have been unable to substantiate them as coming from pro-vaccine advocates, "there was evidence the threats may have come from Australian anti-vaccination activists." Virologist David Hawkes responds to the cancellation of the lecture series by saying it "was a win for people who were concerned about public health...."It's been driven by parents generally at a community level who were concerned about the emergence of diseases like whooping cough in the last few years due to less than ideal vaccination rates." Tenpenny is quoted as saying "The anti-free-speech terrorists have voiced bomb threats and have threatened violence against venue owners and their families". It was later revealed that one bomb threat actually came from an "anti-vaccination advocate who was disturbed by the thought that Tenpenny’s event might not go ahead". The pro-vaccination group Stop the AVN, spokesman John Cunningham stated that he calls this a win for Australians, "Australia should be proud that as a nation, we have the ability to recognise when someone is trying to mislead us, and react accordingly. Free speech in Australia does not mean you have the right to say anything you like without fear of criticism. Rather, anyone from politicians to health practitioners to journalists should be prepared to face vigorous criticism whenever they try and spread lies and, in this case, what amounts to ideologically driven rubbish."
Osteopathy Australia issued a statement to distance themselves from Tenpenny's claims, saying that "Dr Tenpenny is not an osteopath ... nor is she registered as a health practitioner in Australia" and "Osteopathy Australia, as a peak body for osteopaths in Australia, support public vaccination programs as important public health initiatives. Parents with questions or concerns should consult a medical practitioner, maternal health nurse, or state health department."
Skeptic Zone reporter, Jo Alabaster stated that she has received a full refund for the lecture she was to attend. In an appearance on The Project on the 6th of January 2015, Rachael Dunlop said, "Of course parents have the right to be concerned about a medical procedure, but overwhelmingly they need access to accurate, science based information – and this is not what they will get from Doctor Tenpenny."
- Saying No to Vaccines: A Resource Guide for All Ages. Middleburg Heights, Ohio: NMA Media Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-97909-104-9.
- FOWL! Bird Flu: It's Not What You Think. Servierville, Tenn.: Insight Pub. Co. 2006. ISBN 978-1-93286-387-1.
- The Risks, the Benefits, the Choices, a Resource Guide for Parents. Servierville, Tenn.: Insight Publishing. 2006. ISBN 978-0-97434-482-9.
- A Healthier You!. Servierville, Tenn.: Insight Publishing. 2005. ISBN 978-1-93286-385-7.
- "Anti-vaccination views are misguided - but not illegal". Sydney Morning-Herald. 11 January 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- Tenpenny, Sherri. "Sherri J. Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM (CV)". Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- "Sherri Tenpenny: Who is the controversial anti-vaccination campaigner planning to visit Australia?". ABC News. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- Milman, Oliver (8 January 2015). "Sydney venue cancels seminar by US anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- Milman, Oliver (9 January 2015). "Anti-vaccination campaigner compares critics to Charlie Hebdo attackers". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- Davey, Melissa (19 January 2015). "Anti-vaccination seminar venues all pull out – but tour 'will go ahead'". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- Medew, Julia (29 January 2015). "US anti-vaccination campaigner Dr Sherri Tenpenny cancels tour of Australia". The Brisbane Times (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- Priestly, Angelia. "Anti vaccination, anti women — who gets to speak in Australia?". Women's Agenda. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- Carter, Lucy. "Anti-vaccination campaigner Dr Sherri Tenpenny cancels Australia tour amid security concerns". ABC news. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- Davey, Melissa. "Anti-vaccination campaigner Sherri Tenpenny cancels Australian tour". The Guardian. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- Medew, Julia. "US anti-vaccination campaigner Dr Sherri Tenpenny cancels tour of Australia". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- "Public Announcement: Sherri Tenpenny.". Osteopathy Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- "The Skeptic Zone #328 - 30.Jan.2015". The Skeptic Zone. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- "Fighting Misinformation". The Project. Retrieved February 6, 2015.