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

Zoya Patel 29 September 2021 41
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.

What's Your Opinion?

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41 Responses to Is it time for science to prevail over COVID-19 vaccine opinion?
Cinderella Farid Cinderella Farid 4:19 pm 01 Oct 21

NO, it shouldn't STOP you, so WHY is it, is the question YOU you should be asking.!!

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 4:57 pm 30 Sep 21

The real virus is the politics behind it. If it was just bit more political it could form its own party and run for office.

muzza muzza 3:28 pm 30 Sep 21

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.

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 1:24 pm 30 Sep 21

On a related subject, can we for the love of god please stop using vaxxed! The word is vaccinated. We don’t have to destroy the English language because of this pandemic.

Adam Jovanovic Adam Jovanovic 1:03 pm 30 Sep 21

In terms of efficacy, the Pfizer vaccine protects 94.5% of people from developing COVID.

The AstraZeneca shot protects 70% of people on average — still pretty good and on par with the protection given by a flu vaccine in a good year.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:42 pm 30 Sep 21

    AstraZeneca was given 70% before the time between doses was increased to 12 weeks.

    Alex Thomson Alex Thomson 5:40 pm 01 Oct 21

    Adam Jovanovic, AZ lasts longer too. After 4 months Pfizer loses about 20% efficacy per month. AZ barely lost any efficacy

Remelliard Remelliard 12:36 pm 30 Sep 21

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

Remelliard Remelliard 11:22 am 30 Sep 21

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

franky22 franky22 11:18 am 30 Sep 21

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.

    Acton Acton 2:34 pm 30 Sep 21

    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.

    chewy14 chewy14 2:58 pm 30 Sep 21

    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.

    Acton Acton 4:38 pm 30 Sep 21

    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.

    chewy14 chewy14 7:33 pm 30 Sep 21

    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.

    kenbehrens kenbehrens 8:21 pm 01 Oct 21

    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.

Sher Bee Sher Bee 11:07 am 30 Sep 21

The RiotACT Please highlight the options for the people in their 60s plus who need/want Pfizer. If you ARE eligible there is a GP process.

Edna Brooke Jessop Edna Brooke Jessop 11:02 am 30 Sep 21

In all honesty majority of the people who choose not to be jabbed are usually healthy adults and yet you want to lock them away over people who are immuno compromised - makes perfect sense 🤔.

Remelliard Remelliard 10:35 am 30 Sep 21

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…..

Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 10:34 am 30 Sep 21

Just wondering why the angry rhetoric when we are about to reach 80% and for the vaccinated there will be less restrictions . Unvaccinated will not have the same privileges . That and vaccination was never a silver bullet - you can still catch and transmit the disease . Going back to a completely normal life is not an option - at least not in the near future

    Beth Lewis Beth Lewis 11:08 am 30 Sep 21

    Joanne Mitchell there won’t be a difference in restrictions between people here…

Jenny Richardson Jenny Richardson 9:34 am 30 Sep 21

Vaccination is not the golden bullet. It will help a lot - but until there are very very high vaccination rates, it will still spread like crazy. Watch Sydney in a couple of weeks. And life will not be normal yet - whether Zoya Patel likes it or not, the pandemic is not over and all the impatience in the world isn't going to make it be over. What a self centered article. What about people waiting to be vaccinated, what about kids who can't be vaccinated, what about immuno compromised people who are at risk despite being vaccinated.

    Beth Lewis Beth Lewis 11:05 am 30 Sep 21

    Jenny Richardson she clearly says she is talking about people who choose not to be vaccinated

Jesse Peter Jesse Peter 9:20 am 30 Sep 21

people who roundly declare that mass vax is our ticket back to normality ought to name the places that have achieved our vax rate 'goal' (there are plenty) where things have actually gone back to normal. they never do. i wonder why?

why not cite israel? or maybe iceland?

Gibraltar reached 99% double jabbed in early June ... cases went up 2500% ... new restrictions .. isn't it sad how 1% can hold the rest back?

    Greg Peterson Greg Peterson 10:52 am 30 Sep 21

    Jesse Peter thankfully they are vaxxed rate is so high, far less being hospitalized, far less dying and far less time recovering.

    Gibraltar highest deaths rates occurred way back in January when vax rates were low, despite the recent outbreak in august only three deaths have occured, which backs up what the science says.

    Immunisation works.

    The same applies the Israel.

    Greg Peterson Greg Peterson 11:22 am 30 Sep 21

    Jesse Peter some more fact checking.

    On June 1, Gibraltar recorded 1 new case of COVID-19 while on July 30, 25 cases were reported which does indeed equate to a 2,500% increase.

    “It is clear now that current COVID vaccines prevent to a high degree severe illness, but not virus transmission,”

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 12:34 pm 30 Sep 21

    Jesse Peter most of Europe at around 40% fv

    Jesse Peter Jesse Peter 12:44 pm 30 Sep 21

    ok so the only argument for covid vaccination is to protect the individual against severe illness or death, and to reduce the odds of hospitals being overwhelmed.

    but not everyone is at substantial risk of severe outcome, right?

    so why should a young healthy person at very low risk of severe outcome/hospitalisation be blamed or punished for deciding not to accept an experimental treatment for a disease they are already at very low risk from? why are we pretending everyone is at equal risk? its simply not true.

    that's the argument being put forward here, isn't it?

    i am young, fit, healthy, unlikely to be hospitalised.

    80%+ of hospitalised cases are in the obese. why not punish them? blame them for clogging up hospitals because of their life choices? exclude them from society? mandate weight loss programs?

    Mark Dawson Mark Dawson 3:44 pm 30 Sep 21

    Jesse Peter There are young healthy people having severe disease and deaths due to COVID-19. This is no test to predict an individuals reaction to this disease. Yes, outcomes are worse for the elderly and those with chronic health issues but there is no guarantee that a young healthy person will have no issues.

    Jesse Peter Jesse Peter 4:10 pm 30 Sep 21

    there are no guarantees in life. but there is statistics. there is sane and rational appraisal of risk.

    i am 39. my odds of death as an unvaccinated are on the order of one in 3500. that includes all unhealthy, metabolically compromised, vitamin deficient, alcoholics etc. i am young and healthy.

    i may die of covid anyway.

    i also might choke to death at the dinner table.

    my odds of either unfortunate demise are approximately equal.

    should i spend the rest of my life on a liquid diet to ameliorate that small but real risk?

    18 months of incessant bombardment with vague, generalised fearmongering has radically eroded the capacity of a significant fraction of the population to accurately assess and react to risk.

    Nada Krstin Nada Krstin 6:53 pm 30 Sep 21

    Jesse Peter And the irony that those that actually more need the protection of a vaccine (most vulnerable or immunocompromised) cannot actually receive the vaccine because of it’s effects on their system …

TheSilver TheSilver 8:18 am 30 Sep 21

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.

Lauren Bevan Lauren Bevan 8:18 am 30 Sep 21

It’s frustrating that the rhetoric constantly stemming from the media seems to be that the only reason someone isn’t vaccinated is due to personal choice.

I know so many people in the over 60s bracket who have been advised by their doctors not to have AZ and have been denied access to the alternative vaccines.

I think there needs to be a greater awareness of these people and their circumstances, and they should be allowed access to alternative vaccines so that they can be safe too.

It’s not just a matter of saying ‘oh well you can have AZ so it’s your fault your not vaccinated.’

    Sher Bee Sher Bee 10:58 am 30 Sep 21

    Lauren Bevan there are options for over 60s, your GP would be well aware of the process for those who have a HISTORY of underlying health issues.

    Lauren Bevan Lauren Bevan 11:09 am 30 Sep 21

    Sher Bee as I said, there are a number of people who have been denied access to an alternate vaccine even with a GP’s support.

    If you review the criteria for access to Pfizer for this age range you will see they are extremely narrow and don’t account for all circumstances.

    My point stands that the media is perpetuating the rhetoric that the only reason a person isn’t vaccinated is by personal choice. I won’t be responding to any further comments.

Acton Acton 8:05 am 30 Sep 21

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.

    Dorfrom Dorfrom 12:25 pm 30 Sep 21

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

    Not a hard concept to get.

chewy14 chewy14 8:05 am 30 Sep 21

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.

Dee Gee Dee Gee 7:21 am 30 Sep 21

Just yesterday SMH reported that true vaccine hesitancy is below 5%, and uncertainty below 10%, so this is just baseless anger venting. It takes time to vaccinate even the most eager population. Why publish this when the evidence is to the contrary and the country is about to meet its targets on time.

    Dee Gee Dee Gee 6:22 pm 30 Sep 21

    Sher Bee I’m not sure why they should listen to me. Given that I’m only pointing out this anger is baseless according to the attitude surveys. But respectfully, if they were to listen to someone neither myself or yourself are any authority on the matter. People should listen to their doctor instead. No matter what you or I think.

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