Last week, my octogenarian parents received their second AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine jab and were shocked to find that they were among the exclusive six percent Australian club of those fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
They were told this figure by their GP, who commented that this was an extremely low figure and congratulated them on doing their bit.
My father suggested I write my next column on the reasons why only 1.5 million out of 25 million Australians were fully vaccinated (which includes two jabs, two weeks apart).
In the spirit of filial piety, I accepted that challenge.
Australia currently ranks last among the 38 Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) countries regarding vaccination rates.
It rates slightly ahead of the largest democracy, India, that has around four percent of its population fully vaccinated (57.7 million out of 1.37 billion).
The Australian government has spent $24 million on advertising to convince Australians to take the jab, yet why is there such hesitancy to take the vaccine when 10 million individuals willingly receive a flu shot each year?
I think the following reasons apply:
Australians Know the Difference Between Immunisation and Vaccination
Not one expert has said that the COVID-19 vaccination confers immunity. Instead, they have all acknowledged that the vaccine simply reduces the severity of the symptoms. Thereby leaving Australians with the knowledge that it is still possible to catch the virus. They are also aware that the vaccine can only cover you for last year’s virus, it cannot protect you against new variants or strains
They also know that the COVID-19 vaccine is an “experimental vaccine” and has received limited time for testing (seven months). When Australians compare this to the wait times that have been applied to other vaccines like the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil which was developed by Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer. Gardisil was tested by Frazer for seven years to make sure it was safe and only then was it made available.
Australians Are Closely Following the News Around Vaccinations
Currently, cancellations for the vaccine are increasing dramatically in some instances once news of a vaccine-related death breaks in the Australian media.
They are also paying attention to the fact doctors overseas are questioning the safety of the vaccines. Media reports from Japan for example are covering how 390 Japanese doctors signed a petition to halt vaccinations. This from a country that will host the Olympic games, and is normally welcoming of government intervention, has been shocking to some. It also makes many wonder if more time is needed to accurately assess the vaccinations we are currently able to access.
Australians Do Not Respond Well to Being Forced or Pressured
So when told that lockdowns will continue unless 80 percent of the population is vaccinated, Australians may not respond positively, especially since countries with the best practice have only achieved a 60 to 70 percent vaccination rate.
The country has also been subjected to confusing messaging around the vaccinations with Australians over the age of 40, being told months ago that they should no longer get the AstraZeneca vaccine but would have to wait for the Pfizer vaccine. This has led to many believing that we’re not necessarily all “in this together.”
There has also been issues with prioritisation. My friend John (currently in his 70s), a retired school teacher and law-abiding citizen cannot get his choice of a Pfizer vaccine, but all prisoners, including those in their 70s, can.
Australians Are in No Rush
We are continuously told that we are the safest COVID-19 haven globally, and four of our capital cities rank in the Top 10 Most Liveable Cities in 2021.
So, in conclusion, and to my father: Australians are acting wisely and being cautious around mandatory vaccinations.
The community spirit still exists, but Australians will decide when and where they receive the vaccine, and of course, when they are confident of its safety.
Tshung Hui Chang is a company director and has deep experience in the financial services industry across the Asia-Pacific region. He is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, English, and Bahasa. Chang has written and spoken extensively about the interference and influence activities of the Chinese Communist Party in Australia. Chang is a contributor to the upcoming book “Trump, COVID and the World—Australia Edition” (Unchain Australia)
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.