Western Australia Sees Vaccine Hesitancy Amid Growing Mandates

By Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev is an Australian reporter based in Perth covering energy, tech, and politics. He holds bachelor's degrees in math, physics, and computer science. Contact him at daniel.khmelev@epochtimes.com.au.
October 7, 2021 Updated: October 7, 2021

Western Australia (WA) is trailing behind the rest of Australia in its uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine despite public information campaigns, improved vaccination accessibility, and industry mandates.

Three in ten West Australians aged 16 and over have not had a single dose of the available COVID-19 vaccines, and almost half of West Australians have yet to receive their second jab.

WA physician specialising in infection management, Dr. Clay Golledge, said West Australia had a “terrible” vaccine uptake, reported The Australian. In particular, Golledge criticised WA’s residents for underutilising the 100-plus state-run vaccination clinics available across WA.

“We have got 10,000 vacant vaccine appointments this week, huge empty queues at the major centres,” Golledge told Sky News.

Following WA Premier Mark McGowan’s decision to open up vaccinations for 16 to 29 year-olds, the state recorded a staggering 91,000 bookings in the first week. However, these figures did not persist as the enthusiasm tapered off.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of the public wait to be vaccinated at a COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic in Midland, an eastern suburb of Perth, Australia, on Sep. 9, 2021. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

Golledge suggested West Australians’ refusal came from a growing complacency after the state experienced far fewer cases than other parts of the country.

“Delta is coming for Western Australia, whether it is next week or next month or the month after. But it is definitely coming. We need to get vaccinated and prepare to live alongside it,” he said.

However, the concept of vaccine mandates has been criticised, with Harvard epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff saying he believed the mandates were a primary contributor to a loss in vaccine confidence.

“Right now, with these vaccine mandates, and vaccine passports, this coercive thing is turning a lot of people away from vaccines and not trusting them for very understandable reasons,” Kulldorff told The Epoch Times. “‘Why do you have to force somebody to take the vaccine, if it’s so beneficial to you?’ That’s one rationale.”

“Those who are pushing these vaccine mandates and vaccine passports—vaccine fanatics, I would call them—to me, they have done much more damage during this one year than the anti-vaxxers have done in two decades,” Kulldorff said.

“I would even say that these vaccine fanatics, they are the biggest anti-vaxxers that we have right now. They’re doing so much more damage to vaccine confidence than anybody else.”

Epoch Times Photo
WA Premier Mark McGowan prepares to speak to media at Dumas House in Perth, Australia, on Apr. 23, 2021. WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced a snap three-day lockdown for the Perth and Peel regions of Western Australia. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/Getty Images)

WA’s decision to mandate vaccines for healthcare workers last month has previously sparked demonstrations in the  Australian state, with many healthcare workers choosing to lose their livelihoods rather than conform to the state government’s directives.

However, the unrest did not deter the McGowan government who have mandated the COVID-19 vaccination for high school graduates wanting to travel to Dunsborough, a popular destination for the traditional school leavers event.

The state government also confirmed that mining and other fly-in fly-out (FIFO) personnel would be required to be fully vaccinated with a recognised COVID-19 vaccine by January, 2022.

Daniel Khmelev is an Australian reporter based in Perth covering energy, tech, and politics. He holds bachelor's degrees in math, physics, and computer science. Contact him at daniel.khmelev@epochtimes.com.au.