• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Australians could face mandatory vaccination as prime minister signs pact with UK drugmaker

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Australians could face mandatory coronavirus vaccinations if things go the way of Scott Morrison, the country’s prime minister.

READ ALSO: Brazil to start testing Oxford vaccine against the coronavirus this month

The leader expects all to be vaccinated when the country’s plans of securing an international deal to produce a vaccine frontrunner locally sail through in trials, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Wednesday.

“I would expect it to be as mandatory as you could possibly make it,” Prime Minister Morrison told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis. We are talking about a pandemic that has destroyed the global economy and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands all around the world and over 430 Australians here,” Morrison said.

The government has signed an agreement with UK-based drug company AstraZeneca to secure the potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University.

If the vaccine clears trials, the Federal Government would manufacture it and make it free for all Australians, an outcome that’s unlikely to be until next year at the earliest, Morrison said.

However, the government was yet to make a decision on making the vaccine mandatory.

He said the government would take medical advice on the rollout, including on who would get access first, with medical workers and the nation’s most vulnerable people likely to be a priority.

But the announcement has triggered on-going criticism especially for the lack of exemption and denial of child care benefits to vaccine refusers – unless they provide proof of exemptions.

Caroline, a Twitter user condemned the idea, raising concern that “it’s a crime against humanity to mandate something that has such a high risk where the long-term side-effects were not known”, via her handle @queenaliking.

Raina MacIntyre, head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine and Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) said studies have shown that easily granting non-medical exemptions have been associated with higher rates of refusal and higher rates of pertussis.

In essence, administrative requirements for exemptions may decrease rates of vaccine refusal, she said, in an opinion published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal. It was co-authored by Daniel Salmon, an Associate Professor, School of Public Health, Global Disease Epidemiology and Control at John Hopkins University, and Saad Omer, an Associate Professor of Global Health, Epidemiology & Pediatrics at Emory University.

“Unfortunately, while well-intentioned, this approach is imprudent. The problem of vaccine hesitancy is far more complex than can be addressed with simple elimination of non-medical exemptions,” they said. “Parents no longer fear diseases such as measles that have been largely controlled through vaccination. Fear has shifted from the diseases to the vaccines.”