29 September 2021

Is it time for science to prevail over COVID-19 vaccine opinion?

| Zoya Patel
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Nurse preparing COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine

A nurse preparing COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine at the Garran Surge Centre. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

In February 2020, when the word “coronavirus” still seemed like it would have only a passing place in our vocabulary, we were ready to weather a temporary pandemic.

We understood adjustments would need to be made, and some of us might even have welcomed the opportunity to slow down a little (at least, those of us whose living wasn’t reliant on freedom of movement).

But now, as almost two years have been swallowed by stop-start lockdowns, a ban on international travel, and businesses trying desperately to stay the course with all the uncertainty, our patience is understandably wearing thin.

And yet, even though there’s an obvious pathway out of the pandemic through vaccinations, politics and anti-vax noise is stalling our recovery.

At a certain point (and I would argue that point is now), science has to prevail over opinion.

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Yes, everyone is entitled to their bodily autonomy, but there are also consequences for the choices we make, and I think if you choose not to be vaccinated, you can also choose to stay at home, not participate in community events, and wear the outcomes of your decision.

The fact is that our lives are ticking by while we humour people who, despite the overwhelming science about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines available to us, still don’t want to get the jab. And that’s fine – people can make that choice for themselves, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should languish in pandemic purgatory on their account.

I think of family members and friends who are ageing, desperate to be able to enjoy the travel and leisure they were promised as the reward for 50 years of working hard and contributing to our economy, who are now facing the fact that their age might get them before they get to fulfil the items on their bucket lists.

And of the kids who are experiencing a muted version of childhood, with all or more than half of their lives having been lived through the pandemic. Don’t they deserve to have their lives back, as much as anti-vaxxers deserve to make choices for their bodies?

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Coming from a developing country, I have always felt very grateful for modern medicine that has quite literally saved my life – I was born with severe asthma, which doctors predicted would kill me at infancy, but moving to Australia and accessing our professional, accountable, and regulated healthcare system helped me overcome this illness and live a healthy life.

I trust experts because I know the extent of the checks and balances in place across our global medical and pharmaceutical systems to ensure the safety of vaccinations before they are rolled out, and we’ve heard from numerous experts for many months now about the risks and rewards of the COVID vaccines on the market.

We can make informed choices – and if you choose not to get vaccinated, that’s your call – but I don’t want to be punished for the decisions of others. I fully support the notion of a “vaccine passport”, and greater freedoms for people who have been vaccinated.

I want out of this cycle of lockdowns and uncertainty, and I want businesses to recover, kids to be able to go to school, international travel to recommence, and life to just return to normal.

It’s been heartening to see the vaccination rates in Canberra stay so strong – but if you’re not willing to get the jab, that shouldn’t stop the rest of us from reaping the benefits of it.

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The current crop of vaccines were ticked off without any concern for longer term effects, especially with new technologies such as m-RNA. The traditional protein based vaccines are what we should be using. Novavax is one (currently with TGA for approval) and COVAX-19 is another one developed at Flinders Uni. Google Professor Nikolai Petrovsky and listen to interviews etc. on this vaccine.

Ummmm Michael – yes you can – it’s called a public health order…..

Let me put it in a simpler way for you, an anecdote if you will…..

There once was this immune-compromised little child who …….. oh who am I kidding, you’ll just skim past this anyway…..

Michael Byrne 12:19 pm 30 Sep 21
Sher Bee I am not against vaccination, not once did I say that. My view as you put it is that you can’t force people to get vaccinated and hold their freedom at ransom

Lauren Bevan – you are simply wrong unfortunately. I checked Google….. they all have access and there is no excuse….

People are fully entitled to refuse vaccination. They must appreciate that by the same logic others are also fully entitled to refuse them entry into their place of business and exclude them from a range of locations.

No, it does not logically or ethically follow that the minority of people who exercise their right not to be vaccinated (for whatever reason) should then face exclusion, discrimination, penalties and a denial of their civil and political rights from the vaccinated majority. Some of the worst abuses in history have happened after the majority start to persecute a minority because that minority does not share the same view or characteristics of the majority. What you are defending is a form of vaccination apartheid.

The problem with your view is that those unvaccinated people are creating a higher risk for everyone else.

So no, excluding them is nothing like the other examples you give.

Your view is no different from the Taliban – the more unbelievers (unvaccinated) there are the more they must be eliminated from society because any unbelievers (unvaccinated) threaten our well being. Once priests of the true faith demanded that heretics be branded, burnt and/or exiled from society. Clearly, ignorance, fear and a disturbing eagerness to persecute others still persists amongst modern day versions of those fear spreading fanatics. I recommend ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’ by Charles Mackay (1841), a book about regular outbreaks of mass hysteria, manias and panics.

Maybe you just want to go the whole hog and call anyone who disagrees with you a Nazi?

However, back in reality it’s nothing like what you’re saying.

People who are unvaccinated for COVID cause a significant health risk to the rest of the population.

Excluding them from specific parts of society protects us all. It’s no different than how other risks would be handled.

There wasn’t a local high school where I grew up, so I was sent to a boarding school. I had to be tested for tuberculosis before I could attend. I was ok, because I had been vaccinated.
I remember at primary school being vaccinated against polio. Only a decade earlier, people with polio were in iron lungs.

Try going overseas. Before you leave, depending on where you are going, there will be a list of vaccines you’ll need before you can go.

I think your argument about exclusion being unethical and that it is a form of vaccination apartheid is baseless. There is plenty of evidence be that
as a society, we are prepared to be vaccinated to enjoy the freedoms that come with them.

Samantha Lowry12:38 pm 08 Feb 22

I just found this article and I must say, hindsight is such a wonderful thing. So just curious… you said unvaccinated people are creating a higher risk for everyone else. Whilst I did chuckle at that, I do wonder if the fallout over the past few months has made you realise that your statement was in fact, totally incorrect????

All the vaccinated are catching covid at work, at social events and whilst enjoying all those freedoms that you believe the unvaccinated should be excluded from. And the best part, they are catching it from all the vaccinated people around them.

So just wondering, who is really creating a higher risk for everyone?????

Samantha Lowry12:43 pm 08 Feb 22

The Polio vax also became one of the worst medical stuff ups in medical history injuring thousands of children with a bad batch, thanks to human error.

I have to laugh at the a majority of the responses below – it’s as if you have all suddenly become immunologists, virologists and epidemiologists with 20 years’ experience (read, “I read one article on Google) and know better…. best comment from Jesse Peter “because i [sic] don’t believe our ‘health experts’ for a second “………… What field do you work in? Because I know it way better than you do no matter what it is, I have access to Google…..

Is there actual evidence that people who haven’t been vaccinated are more likely to infect those who have been? Given that vaccinated people are more likely to have mild symptoms and can still be infectious, they’re more likely to not notice being sick, and thus more likely to be out in the community during their infectious period. Maybe this assumption is wrong, but I haven’t actually seen any data that would make this an issue worth worrying about, just opinion pieces like this more interested in Science™ than science.

What you are saying, in a rather convoluted way, is that we must resume normal life now and those who don’t want to get vaccinated don’t have to. I agree.

They’re free to make their choice but not free from the consequences of that choice.

Not a hard concept to get.

This is a really good article. Whilst I’m not a big fan of government mandated vaccine “passports”, consideration always needs to be given as to what would really benefit society as a whole.

We are fast reaching the points where everyone who wants to get Vaccinated has had the ability to do so. Which means we can’t restrict the rest of society from reopening to the world.

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