opinion

OPINION: Beware of cooking up crisis with COVID-19 vaccine “health advice”

Headshot of Lisa Favazzo
Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
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Dean Alston cartoon: Message to the under 60`s. Barnaby Joyce is driving a horse and wagon. Scott Morrison is peering out of the wagon. He is dressed in a hazmat suit and says "Let them have AstraZeneca!" The angry crowd are throwing syringes at the wagon. The coronavirus are running alongside laughing.
Camera IconDean Alston cartoon: Message to the under 60`s. Barnaby Joyce is driving a horse and wagon. Scott Morrison is peering out of the wagon. He is dressed in a hazmat suit and says "Let them have AstraZeneca!" The angry crowd are throwing syringes at the wagon. The coronavirus are running alongside laughing. Credit: Dean Alston/The West Australian

Given the unfolding crisis, Australia needs a lot right now: clear political leadership, vaccine supplies, people to pick our fruit and wait on our tables, and more hospital beds in remote and regional areas in case the Delta variant of COVID-19 spirals out of control.

There is one thing we don’t need — another cook in the already crowded and confused kitchen of vaccine opinions.

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A few nights ago, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, red-faced and rushed, suggested young people could consult their doctors and get the AstraZeneca jab.

Shortly afterwards, several Australian health bodies and State premiers, including WA’s, recommended against it.

The uncomfortable number of senior chefs in the cramped kitchen started throwing food at each other, and the public — the underpaid dish pigs on working holiday visas — are the ones getting faces full of tomorrow night’s amuse-bouche.

My knowledge of immunology is akin to knowing how to cook toast. I am certainly not in a position to give medical advice.

But I will say, I tried to book myself in for AstraZeneca the morning after “Scotty from marketing” made the call. I wasn’t the only one. The first clinic I tried couldn’t get me in for weeks.

When I called another, the phone just rang out.

I tried to book myself in for AstraZeneca the morning after ‘Scotty from marketing’ made the call. I wasn’t the only one. The first clinic I tried couldn’t get me in for weeks. When I called another, the phone just rang out.

I am not in denial about AstraZeneca’s risk. I am just aware of the crippling global pandemic.

In Australia, where COVID-19 related deaths have been relatively few, a serious outbreak could unpick the fabric of our society.

We have spent more than a year patting ourselves on the back for holding COVID-19 at bay.

The cynic in me feels we have just been patting ourselves on the back for being wealthy, isolated, and fans of urban sprawl and personal cars.

I am afraid of what an outbreak — akin to that in the US or India — could do to us.

As an outspoken journalist who can’t run very fast, I’ll take my chances with the blood clots.

Politics, feelings and fear — it’s all endlessly complicated but government advice on medicine and health shouldn’t be.

With every flip-flop, our Government is eroding the goodwill and trust built while the country enjoyed relative normalcy in a really abnormal time.

I am not in denial about AstraZeneca’s risk. I am afraid of what an outbreak could do to us.

It’s important people are vaccinated — safely — but what’s also important is that our leaders stop sending mixed messages to an already frightened population.

We have watched this break the knees of global leaders and spark fear in the most vulnerable people in other countries.

We are living through a crisis, and I am not suggesting we should sugar-coat the facts, but our leaders must get together, be honest with their constituents and present a united front.

Every sign of division is a crack left open for partisanship, misinformation and distrust, spreading faster than the Delta variant.

We are not making an omelette, we are responding to a crisis.

Now is not the time to start breaking eggs.

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