Wed, 27 Oct 2021

The vaccination saga: Infections, hesitancy and inequality

Independent Australia
09 Oct 2021, 16:52 GMT+10

The stories from across the world are similar. In those countries where anti-vaccination mythology is rife, vaccine hesitancy is a major problem.

Just recently, Marcus Birks appeared from his hospital bed on the BBC.

Breathing heavily from his intensive care unit he said:

He spoke of his regret at not being vaccinated:

Aged just 40, Marcus died on 27 August, leaving his wife who is pregnant with their first child.

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Fake vaccine passports are becoming big business but while the forgeries are good, there are easy ways to spot the counterfeits.

Suicidal hesitancy or lack of supply?

Propagandists, who appear to be heavily influenced by Christian nationalist anti-vaxxer ideologues from the USA, are circulating lies about vaccine content, false claims that vaccination makes men impotent and women infertile, and even claims to First Nations people in WA that vaccination is Satanic.

Doctors in Sydney's southwest, where infection rates are immense, have reported that they are getting threatening letters and demands for vaccine exemptions from patients who have been misled by anti-vaxx misinformation. This is in areas where general vaccination rates have always been high.

As one GP said:

One way in which governments are trying to deal with this suicidal vaccine hesitancy is to impose various levels of compulsion upon their citizenry - in an effort to save lives and damp down the spread of the plague.

Britain has made vaccination mandatory for home care workers and will soon require it for health workers. Nightclubs and other venues required proof of full vaccination from 14 September.

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During this pandemic, anti-vaccination has been the subject of conspiracy theories that are multiplying worldwide.

Canada already requires patrons of non-essential businesses such as restaurants and cinemas to be vaccinated and Federal public servants and transportation workers by the end of October.

Some 3,000 workers have been suspended in France for not complying with mandatory vaccinations in hospitals, care homes and health centres.

Greece is making vaccinations mandatory for nursing home staff and healthcare workers.

Lebanon limits entry to restaurants, cafes, pubs and beaches to people holding vaccine certificates or those who have taken antibody tests.

Saudi Arabia has mandated vaccines for all public and private sector workers and for entry to educational establishments.

Turkey requires negative COVID-19 test results and proof of vaccination from teachers as schools reopen in September and for domestic travel, as well as a negative PCR test for those who are unvaccinated to enter concerts, cinemas and theatres.

Inequality exposed

Hume and Wyndham LGAs in Melbourne Victoria were the worst hit by infections last year but this year it is Hume.

All are large, culturally diverse blue-collar local government areas with a high proportion of Muslims.

It's a pandemic, not Braveheart: 'Freedom day' complicates COVID fight

The rhetoric of 'freedom day' simplifies the complex task of combatting COVID long-term, writes Dr Victoria Fielding.

As reported in The Guardian:

Like the southwestern suburbs of Sydney where infection rates have skyrocketed and where lockdowns have been harshly policed, voices are being raised as to the inequality the pandemic is exposing:

Lack of vaccine supply, due to incompetent Federal Government planning, inadequate quarantine facilities, allowing infection outbreaks into the community, anti-vaxx propaganda spewing forth from the Christian nationalist sinkholes of the Old South of the USA being swallowed around the world from social media, have all added up to a disaster which could get much worse before it gets better.

Vaccine hesitancy is being blamed for infections spreading so quickly in the multicultural working-class suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. But while lack of vaccine supply is still a major issue, that cannot be used by the authorities as an excuse for the spread of the plague.

Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. You can follow Bilal on Twitter @BilalCleland.

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