Once upon a time – a long, long time ago (2021, I think it was) – I put a lot of effort into promoting COVID-19 vaccination.
I have stopped doing that.
As of April 2022 it looks like nearly 5% of adult Australians will choose to never be vaccinated against COVID-19 [source]. It’s been over a year since vaccines arrived in Australia. In the first couple of months it was tricky to access the vaccines, but since mid-2021 it’s been pretty easy. The unvaccinated are unvaccinated by intent, not by lack of information or opportunity.
By comparison, about 11.6% of adult Australians smoke tobacco daily [source]. Smokers ignore the health warnings intentionally – it’s certainly not through lack of information: over 75% of packaging space on tobacco products consists of graphic and text information about the harmful effects of smoking [source].
Smoking is not illegal. Vaccines are not mandatory. Adults do what they want and accept the consequences of their choices.
Despite what people have been shouting at their ‘freedom rallies’ and in courtrooms, vaccines are not mandatory. Never have been. On 07/04/22 it was reported that Simon Ower QC said his client did not get vaccinated because she believed the mandate direction left her with no choice and it was being forced on her [source]. There was a choice then, wasn’t there? It’s not mandatory/forced on you if, as per this example, you get to say “no thanks”.
Vaccines are a condition of employment for many jobs and remain condition of entry for some venues, but they’re not mandatory. Never have been. Nobody will hold you down and inject you with a vaccine. You get to choose. As articulated in a recent eloquent editorial in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, “The heavy hand of coercive care is still reserved for those hearing voices and seeing things, rather than someone at risk of spreading a deadly pathogen to an unvaccinated community.” (Keep, 2021).
Let’s not muck-around here. The people who have chosen not to be vaccinated have grabbed more than their share of media space, and some people (eg: Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly) are prosecuting a peculiar political message to tap-in to that disaffection.
The data shows that Australia’s COVID-19 strategy has been pretty successful [source]:
Out of interest, Australia’s anti-smoking strategy has also been pretty successful [source]:
With the exception of people under the coercive/mandatory treatment conditions of the Mental Health Act, people get to choose what – if any – health advice they follow and what health interventions they receive. .
Smoking is not outlawed. Although smoking and death rates have fallen markedly in that last 20 years, more than 11% of Australian adults choose to smoke daily.
Vaccines are not mandatory. Although more than 95% of Australia adults have had two or more COVID-19 vaccines, over 4% of Australian adults have decided not to have the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some people make good health decisions. Some people make not-so-good health decisions.
Clinicians are very accustomed to providing health care to those who make not-so-good health decisions and/or are pre-contemplative to change. My concern is that if people are taking health advice from Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly are they exercising freedom or freedumb?
Keep, J.R. (2021), Enter the plague. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 30:5, pp. 1037-1039. doi.org/10.1111/inm.12924
That’s it for this angrier-than-usual blog post. The blatant distortions of truth by some incredibly well-funded politicians has made me a tad cranky.
As always, feedback is welcome in the comments section below.
Paul McNamara, 8 April 2022
Short URL: meta4RN.com/free