COVID-19 Vaccines: Raising Bars, Booster Shots and Widening the ‘Freedom’ Gap

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COVID and Perrottet

Sweeping changes to the New South Wales ‘roadmap’ out of the pandemic, announced today, have devastated thousands of New South Wales people who remain unvaccinated.

The previous information that residents who are not double-vaccinated would no longer be treated like ‘social pariahs’ from December 1 has been broken by the State’s new Premier Dominic Perrottet.

Widening ‘freedom gap’

The promised return of what have been dubbed ‘freedoms’ – including being able to do Christmas gift shopping, getting a haircut, going to the optometrist and enjoying a drink at the pub, have now been pushed back to December 15 for those who do not have two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, or ‘whenever the state reaches a 95% double-dose vaccination rate’.

At the same time, double-vaccinated residents will have a number of their ‘freedoms’ given back to them by the government next week.

Raising the bar

The new public health orders were announced, as usual, without credible, independent health evidence or advice.

Originally, the magic number announced by former Premier Gladys Berejiklian was 70% double-dose vaccinated, then it climbed to 80%, then 90% and is now 95%.

And that’s concerning, particularly because everything we know about the vaccination is that it is designed to protect those who choose to have it, lessening the severity of the virus if contracted.

Questions surrounding efficacy

The health advice is that the vaccines are not an ‘immunisation’ – meaning they do not stop infection or transmission, and there are many cases where fully vaccinated people have, in fact, tested positive to COVID-19, and there deaths have been attributed to the virus.

One example is the case of the Sydney woman who travelled to Byron Bay in the Northern Rivers to work on a reality television show. She tested negative to the virus prior to leaving Sydney, and positive when she arrived in the Northern Rivers less than 24 hours later.

Vaccinate at all costs, and get your booster shots

Nevertheless, governments around the country seem intent to pursue ‘vaccination at all costs’, now pushing booster shots and vaccinations for children as young as 12 years old, despite evidence that young, healthy kids and teens may be better off catching the virus, because they would recover quickly, and then develop their own immunity.

The announcement

Today, the state’s new premier said:

“Ultimately we want a united society and we believe by moving that date back to December 15 will incentivise [people to get vaccinated].”The problem is, harsh health policies trotted out over the past 18 months have caused massive social divisions across the state. Nothing has divided people ever before quite in the same way that Covid-19 has, and the government has done very little to improve social cohesion. People remain polarised, and those who feel hesitant about, or completely opposed to the vaccine, have been ostracised and punished for expressing these views.

Authoritarian enforcement

We know too well the potential fate of those who dare to protest — hefty fines, arrests or altercations with police are the likely outcomes for those who choose to publicly speak up for fundamental democratic freedoms.

Let’s not forget that GPs have been effectively silenced by the threat of deregistration if they disseminate information about Covid-19 vaccines which regulators consider to be false or misleading. They are also not able to hand out exemptions for the vaccine, unless a patient’s circumstances fall into a strict number of categories.

Media and government in cahoots

The mainstream media has all but stopped reporting any stories about people suffering the negative side effects of vaccines, although there are many, many personal stories floating around the internet and social media for anyone who chooses to search for them.

Alarmingly, without these adverse reactions being talked about in the presence of medical and science experts, we can’t get a clear and comprehensive picture on the parallels, where they can be drawn, in cases of adverse reactions. Without this information it’s understandable that many people say they can’t make an informed choice.

Many people have chosen to just have faith in the vaccines, and that’s their decision. But those with concerns need to have those concerns addressed and acknowledged openly and honestly, if the government is to build any real trust around the vaccines.

Concerns regarding COVID vaccines

Most of the vaccines prescribed to our children when they are young have been tried and tested over many many years. The COVID-19 vaccinations have been around for less than two. Long-term side effects are simply not known, and now booster shots are being pushed as the next part of the solution, the side effects of which are also not clear.

There is very little talk of treatments, and although home testing kits have become available this week, it would appear, from today’s announcement, that the Government is a long way from considering them an acceptable alternative to being vaccinated.

Just do what the government says and get back to ‘normal’

In New South Wales, extended lockdowns, snap lockdowns, travel limits, curfews, and border closures have also contributed to a palpable collective social desire to ‘just get back to normal’. Those who choose not to be vaccinated are seen by the majority as slowing reopening down.

This view has been largely perpetuated, and endorsed by the government, as evident in its recent public health policies which includes separate rules for two distinct categories of citizens.

The Federal Government has maintained that vaccines will be voluntary, yet that’s just not the case in New South Wales where those who choose not to be vaccinated continue to be punished for exercising their right to freedom of choice, and without a charter of human rights, have no protection against Government coercion and mandates.

It also has to be acknowledged that Scott Morrison has done very little in the way of tempering the harsh State policies, particularly in terms of the vaccination rollout, to the detriment of the nation, which will be another blight on his legacy as Prime Minister.

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Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Spring 2022.

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