27 July 2021

Face to face with a new breed of vax refusers

Comment covid vaccine

Generally I tend to be a fairly positive person by nature. A bit of a Pollyanna.

Even writing this in the middle of the Sydney lockdown, I can honestly say that this whole covid pandemic has, in many instances brought out the best in the majority of people (toilet paper hoggers aside). Did you see the standing ovation at Wimbledon, given to scientist Dame Sarah Gilbert who was part of the team that developed the AstraZeneca vaccine? Wasn’t that wonderful?

But I’ve hit a wall with this one. Not only do I not understand the mindset, but I cannot stop the anger.

I’m talking about those people who are set against getting the covid vaccine. Any covid vaccine. While I don’t agree with majority of reservations about the AZ vaccine, I can see why an anxious person might prefer the Pfizer vaccine – but these are not the people that concern me. I’m talking about those people who don’t want either.

For reasons ranging from “it’s been too rushed and untested” to “I don’t like being told what to do”, they feel entitled to pass on our only real way of getting out of this plague.

Fortunately, there aren’t many but there are certainly some, and they’re not your usual anti-vaxxers. People whom I consider educated and theoretically well-informed are among these anti anti-covid cohort and they seem to be offering banal excuses for their stance against vaccination. It’s like a new breed of vaccine refusers has emerged and it’s bringing out the worst in me.

I can’t decide whether it’s stupidity or selfishness – probably a bit of both – but while I try to present that pre-requisite non-judgmental persona when I encounter one of these people, I can feel my frustration levels rising. Even if they themselves don’t feel at risk from the virus, they don’t appear to feel any sense of responsibility  for potentially transmitting the infection to the more vulnerable in our community.

A classic example is a patient of mine we’ll call Barb. Barb’s in her early 60s and works as a nurse for a non-GP specialist. She’s had a few health issues but is currently not on any medication. Perfect candidate for vaccination. Oh no, she’s worried about side effects of any covid vaccine so thinks she’ll just rely on everyone else getting it and she’ll be protected by herd immunity. Yes, she actually quoted herd immunity to me.

Of course I tried to address the reservations about the side effects, but let’s face it – she’s an RN – she should know this, and even if she doesn’t, why isn’t she listening to the people she knows are trustworthy? The medical experts, the scientists, the specialists – not just here but around the world. Does she think they are all stupid? Or lying? Or part of some giant conspiracy? And even if she genuinely believes the side-effects are that bad, why is it then OK that everyone else risks them and gets vaccinated in order to protect her?

After this rant, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I’m in favour of covid vaccination being mandatory for all aged care workers. Of course they should all be vaccinated. It would be entirely indefensible that any vulnerable elderly resident of an aged care facility contract the infection from a staff member simply because that worker chose not to receive the vaccine.

And I think the mandate should be extended. All those people who deliver services to elderly patients in their homes or even in the community should have to be vaccinated, and yes even all staff at medical services, including Barb.

I’m not sure what the specialist practice that employs Barb is doing in terms of pressuring her to get the vaccine, but I know of at least one practice who is about to say “if you don’t get vaccinated you can’t work here” to an employee who is refusing to get the vaccine.

It’s a tough call isn’t it? But surely we have to take a stand. Personal liberty is important, but not more important than protecting the whole.

Maybe all this will be a moot point. Perhaps when we start seeing some carrots to encourage vaccination rather than the current sticks, those vaccine-refusers will change their mind.

Maybe when they say vaccinated people aren’t required to abide by lockdown restrictions, or can travel freely between states, or even travel overseas, we might see the Barbs of the world lining up to get their shots. I hope so.  

But at the moment I’m left with the feeling there are two kinds of people in the world – those who are getting the covid-vaccination and those who are refusing it.

And really, at the risk of sounding a tad judgmental, I don’t think much of that second group.

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22 Comments on "Face to face with a new breed of vax refusers"

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Helen B
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Helen B
4 months 5 days ago
There is an old principal in medicine which is being steam-rollered over at present which is : FIRST DO NO HARM! We are not abiding by that. I won’t touch on the Trusted News Initiative (which is censoring/trolling anything not agreeing with vaccine vaccine vaccine). There are treatments available for covid that Drs have used all over the world that reduce hospital admission/severity but they have been trolled to high heaven in western nations unless they are expensive and useless like Remdesivir. I refer you to FLCCC and BIRD for that info. Those in charge of pandemic response in USA… Read more »
Helen B
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Helen B
4 months 5 days ago
Dont’ worry Linda- the rage is mutual!! I spent years of my life vaccinating people (and arguing with those who didn’t want to vaccinate their children) but I REFUSE to take part in a worldwide gene therapy trial (which is what the manufacturers call their so-called mRNA vaccines on their own websites)! We DO NOT know the long-term effects of this experimental technology that is being forced on humanity world-wide – at least 2 years are needed to ensure we are not going to develop Antibody Enhancement Disease as has always previously occurred with these type of vaccines. I go… Read more »
lynnie jacobs
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lynnie jacobs
4 months 5 days ago
Lyn, I was very angry too (internally) at friends mostly non-medical and some patients and the lame reasons against vaccination and rubbish that people believe. I have found the advanced elderly 75 and above are fine getting the vaccine because they remember the last polio epidemic in Australia and the relief of the polio vaccination. And the young people are lining up for Astra and any vaccine to get their lives back, be able to congregate, party and travel. But the 50-60s age group are the worst! They have had all the benefits of vaccination and none of the risks… Read more »
john barr
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john barr
4 months 5 days ago
So these extremely intelligent people who developed the vaccines can see 10 or 20 years into the future and categorically state that there will be no long term side effects. It is interesting to note that the number of positive tests (falsely called cases) in UK, is rising in the vaccinated and falling in the unvaccinated, suggesting that a degree of herd immunity has been reached. It also highlights the fact that the vaccines seem to be doing what they claim, which is not to prevent you getting covid, but lessen the severity and decrease the risk of hospitalization and… Read more »
Peter Bradley
Member
Peter Bradley
4 months 5 days ago
John, you and Joe make good points. Hence that is my stance in my post down there somewhere also. I don’t think it should be compulsory for anyone other than those whose job it is is to look after very vulnerable people. Even then, maybe not – just move them out, and make sure those vulnerable have the vax if at all possible. After all, just think how you’d feel, if you urged a certain person have the vax against their wish, and they were one of the rare cases who did die from a rare idiosyncratic complication of the… Read more »
Karen Majda
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Karen Majda
4 months 6 days ago

Couldn’t put it better myself as a gp trying to encourage both patients and all of my staff to be vaccinated against covid-19. Definitely think we should be supported in making it compulsory in medical practices for all staff to be vaccinated . I think antivaxers generally rely on being protected by herd immunity but not so sure that is happening this time around the world.

Shannon
Guest
Shannon
4 months 5 days ago
I would be careful for calling anyone who doesn’t want this gene therapy an anti-vaxxer… it’s plainly a gross mischaracterisation of concerns of long term safety profile which is impossible to know. I would put money on the position that everyone who has advocated a more measured and ‘free will’ approach to this whole issue has given thousands of vaccines in their time and is otherwise fully vaccinated themselves. But you are effectively saying ‘you will be take part in this experimental gene therapy trial and NOT be remunerated as a normal study participant would AND if you don’t you… Read more »
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