The vaccination situation

Vaccination is, without doubt, our best pathway to move on from the pandemic. So it baffles me, each and every day, as to how the Federal Government has screwed it up so incredibly badly.

I won’t dwell on the AstraZeneca situation because, frankly, as I see it, it’s a perfectly satisfactory and safe vaccine. The conflicting rhetoric from the Federal Government and the media regarding the vaccine has done this country no favours.

I will say just this: if you’re eligible to get it, then do so. You’re four times more likely to be struck by lightning at some point this year than you are to die of a side-effect.[1]

My main concern with the rollout isn’t so much what vaccine we’ve got to offer, it’s the fact that we’ve barely got one to put on offer, and likely won’t until the end of this year.

In early November last year, Scott Morrison loudly and proudly proclaimed that Australia was at the “front of the queue” when it came to vaccinations![2] It made headlines across the nation, and positive news stories for the Coalition.

But, was Morrison’s claim true? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

The graph below illustrates vaccine doses administered per 100 people in OECD countries on the date of this post’s publication. Notably, that Australia’s coming 36th out of the 38 OECD nations. Now look, I don’t know about you, but I ain’t convinced that this is what the front of the queue looks like.

It’s all well and good to suggest that these countries need the vaccine more than us. That they’ve been impacted by COVID more than we have. Even accepting that, I’m still of the view that we should (and could) be doing much better right now.

At present, we’re seeing COVID outbreaks in Melbourne and Sydney. I’m no infectious disease specialist, but it seems to me that if we had a highly vaccinated population, we’d probably be a bit calmer about it. Instead, because the vast majority of the population is unvaccinated, we get into a big panic every single time a few cases get into the community. It’s farcical, albeit necessary, yet could have been so easily avoided.

Now, to give the Federal Government credit where credit’s due, there’s no denying that Australia’s economy has presently recovered far better than most of the countries above, and indeed the wider world. But if the vaccine “rollout” continues as it has been, we’re going to be left behind in the long run.

Our borders will remain closed, while quarantine-free international tourism returns elsewhere in the world.

We’ll continue to suffer the financial impacts of domestic lockdowns, while the rest of the world gets on with business as usual.

Families will remain separated by the Federal Government’s reprehensible, unprecedented ban on Australian citizens leaving the country.

Until vaccination is an easy process, accessible to all, and one which commands the public’s confidence, we’re going to continue facing these impacts which come from living alongside the virus.

I note that Scott Morrison was one of the first in the country to have a Pfizer jab stuck in him. At the time it happened, I supported that move entirely. It seemed important that he set an example to Australians that the vaccine is safe and worthwhile. Now, though, seeing how little of the adult population remains unvaccinated thus far, he looks like a selfish fool.

Similarly, last week, the Prime Minister found himself on the other side of the planet, swanning around Cornwall pondering his convict heritage, chatting with locals in pubs, in a place of the world which any normal Australian citizen is legally prohibited from visiting.[3]

Mr Morrison, you’ve got a job: to lead, to inspire confidence, to convince the public that everything’s under control. Get on with it. If you’re not up to the job, step aside and let an adult take the reins.

It seems that perhaps the Prime Minister has finally found himself in a situation in which spin won’t set him free. It’s about time that he steps up, takes responsibility, and owns the fact that this really hasn’t gone to plan. Or, at the very least, stops insisting it has.[4]

Ultimately, it’s not too late to sort this whole situation out. A strong and effective marketing campaign, as well as a consistent and sufficient supply of vaccines, will see the “rollout” become an actual rollout. Indeed, you, dear reader, can help simply by rolling up your sleeve and getting the vaccine when your time comes.

We can still get it done, so let’s not just do it — let’s demand it. For when we can return to a COVID-free world, it’ll all be worth it. We might even be lucky enough to visit Cornwall and discuss our family history over a pint with the locals.

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