Want to Keep Your Jobs and ‘Freedoms’? Get the COVID-19 Booster Shot

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Booster shot

For months, the return of ‘freedoms’ to New South Wales residents has been linked to vaccination rate – which started at 70% first shot for adults, moved to 70% double-vaccinated for adults, then 70% double-vaccinated for those 16 years and over, then 80% double-vaccinated for those 16 years and over and, recently, a target of 95% of those 16 years and over double-vaccinated.

There has even been a recent push for those over the age of 12 years to get vaccinated.

Now, the state government has started sowing the seeds for the push to make the retention of ‘freedoms’ for those vaccinated more than six months ago contingent on having a third COVID-19 ‘booster’ shot.

Booster shots now offered

These booster shots, which are now being offered to all adults six months after their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, are not currently mandatory to retain vaccination status – but there many believe they will become so in the near future.

Want NSW to stay open? Want to keep your job? Then get a COVID-19 booster shot

The NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, and Minister for Industry and Trade, Stuart Ayres, has publicly stated that residents “all have a responsibility” to get a booster shot if they “want to remain in work” and avoid another lockdown,” stated, adding that:

“If you want to remain in work, if you want your favourite cafe or your favourite restaurant or your favourite pub to stay open, then you need to get your booster shot.”

It’s the kind of rhetoric we’ve come to expect from our politicians. The problem here, is that it was delivered by the Jobs Minister, not a Health Minister or the Chief Medical Officer, and it was said at a press conference where it was not backed up by any health advice.

NSW was released from more than 100 days of lockdown in October, but many restrictions remain in place. Unvaccinated people remain locked out of many public places, and social activities until the state reaches 95 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.

Many employers now have mandatory vaccination policies, which for many means “no jab, no job”. People must show vaccine passports to access basic freedoms such as shopping, getting a haircut, dining at a restaurant or going to the gym, or to the pub.

The NSW ‘vaccinate at all costs’ strategy is nothing short of draconian. Particularly because it is not actually supported by publicly available, credible, independent health advice. And because it seriously infringes on people’s personal choices.

Why can’t we look at vaccination alternatives?

The NSW Government continues to ignore the fact that there are non-medically invasive options such as rapid-antigen home testing kits now available, and other vaccinations on the way, which may be more appealing to those who have been hesitant to be vaccinated up until now.

“There is simply nothing more important you can do to bed in all the important work we’ve done than getting your third dose. If you do that, you give us the absolute best chance to fight off this insidious virus so we never see it again,” stated Mr Ayres.

This is also highly questionable. High vaccination rates are no guarantee that the virus won’t remain rampant. The recent experience in Singapore is a case in point. Only days after reaching 80% vaccination rates, the country reported its highest daily COVID-19  infections in more than a year.

Delta won’t disappear with high vaccination rates

Mr Alex Cook, an infectious diseases modelling expert at the National University of Singapore, said, “it is incredibly hard to prevent Delta’s spread and, as Singapore shows, even high vaccination rates will not help that much.”

In Victoria too, Premier Dan Andrews has suggested that going forward, freedoms for those who are vaccinated would “be about the maintenance of vaccination status”.

This is despite the Federal Government’s stance that vaccines should be voluntary, and reports of Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt saying “if you’re double vaccinated, you’re fully vaccinated” and that boosters would be optional for “additional protection”.

State rules contradict Federal stance

Even the Federal Government’s vaccine advisory group, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has not yet provided any direction or guidance on booster shots. In a recent statement it said it would provide further information in the coming weeks “including whether a booster dose is required to maintain protection against COVID-19 and, if so, how often it should be administered”.

Once again, the states are making their own rules which unfairly ostracise and discriminate against the unvaccinated for simply choosing to exercise their free will and freedom of choice.

It’s been reported that Pfizer will be used for booster shots regardless of the COVID-19 vaccine received for the first or second dose.

There have been reports of people suffering anaphylaxis or myocarditis (heart inflammation) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) following vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. To that end, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration is currently monitoring myocarditis and pericarditis as “adverse events of special interest”.

In a recent report the Therapeutic Goods Administration revealed analysis of Australian data indicates there is a higher than expected number of cases of myocarditis in vaccinated compared to unvaccinated individuals, related to Pfizer and that these findings were similar to findings from other drug regulators overseas.

The TGA report says: From 21 million Comirnaty (Pfizer) doses given, we have received 404 reports of suspected myocarditis alone or in combination with pericarditis, with 67 of these reports in adolescents (12- 17-years-old). We have also received 971 reports of suspected pericarditis alone, with 65 of these reports in adolescents.

Of course, any adverse effects of boosters are not yet widely known, because these are only just now being rolled out across Australia.

The point of pushing vaccinations is largely because they reduce the severity of the virus for anyone who contracts it, and therefore reduce the likelihood of people needing access to ventilators and specialist ICU care.

Ensuring, or as we have seen, coercing and mandating high vaccination rates essentially takes the onus off the Government to invest in hospitals and the health system so that it can better cope with this type of pandemic.

As many people have already pointed out, the vaccination is not like a mask, check into a venue, or being asked to use hand sanitiser and stand 2 metres apart, it’s a medical procedure and people should be respected to make their own informed choice, not backed into a corner.

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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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