We need to promote the benefits of vaccination

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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COVID-19 VACCINATION

We need to promote the benefits of vaccination

Referring to “Almost a third baulk at COVID vaccination” (The Age, 19/5), why focus on the negative? This may increase vaccine hesitancy for those who are on the fence, as we tend to follow what other people do. Instead, focus on the fact that according to the survey, a significant number of respondents were fully vaccinated, had had the first injection or were registered to have it, or said they were extremely likely, very likely or fairly likely to have it.

I am 42 and plan to get it as soon as I am allowed to, and am encouraging my parents to get it too. As soon as one is approved for children, I will get my 7-year-old vaccinated. When boosters for variants are available, I will be there, my sleeves rolled up. Focus on the positives to encourage group-think immunisations.
June Gardiner, Pascoe Vale South

The community’s attitudes will reflect leadership

Is it any wonder that a large percentage of Australians see no need or urgency in getting vaccinated when the federal government sees no need or urgency by refusing to set targets, being ever so slow to roll out vaccinations in aged and disability care, is poorly organised and generally shows little interest in getting the population vaccinated as quickly as possible?
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

We have created a risk-averse, anxious society

While the reasons given for vaccine hesitancy may be true, they probably make up only part of a complex story. For years, medicine has promoted a patient-centric model of health, only to revert to a “trust us, we know best” approach to vaccination. For years, elements of the medical profession have relentlessly pushed messages about awful things happening if people do not care for their health, leading to them being over-anxious about it. For years, we have infantilised people on risk and risk perception to the point where words such as “safety” and “risk” are overused and devalued.

In short, we have created a risk-averse, anxious society. When authorities cannot even agree on what constitutes a significant risk, or measures to effectively mitigate and manage risks, it is no surprise that some people are not engaging. Once authorities lose the confidence of people, it is a long walk back.
Joanna Wriedt, Eaglemont

Holding off so the vulnerable can be assisted first

I am not “baulking” at getting the vaccination. I plan to have it, but I am healthy and want the most vulnerable – those in groups 1a and 1b – to have it first. How many people feel the same as I do?
John Johnson, Richmond

Ensuring that every country has access to vaccines

Can we please start thinking about the vaccination strategy as global rather than national? This is a matter of justice and equity, and it is also essential in terms of public health worldwide. As long as there are unvaccinated populations anywhere, the virus will continue to mutate – and quite possibly outsmart all the vaccines that have been administered so far. The debate about reopening Australia’s borders could become irrelevant at any moment.

One immediate, practical contribution that the Australian government could make would be to support the US and other countries in waiving intellectual property rights on existing COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer expects roughly $US15billion ($19.7billion) in revenue this year from its vaccine (The Age, 29/4), which is surely enough to sustain a healthy bottom line. The jabs should be made freely available to every country in the world.
Caroline Williamson, Brunswick

The privileged get it, the not-so-privileged miss out

Our Prime Minister was vaccinated months ago. Our Olympic team is being speedily vaccinated. Yet we have failed to vaccinate the huge majority of residents in disability settings. This goes beyond incompetence. It is cynical neglect.
David Bunn, Richmond

THE FORUM

Why the PM must act

I do not have family overseas, but I am disappointed at the lack of empathy displayed by many Australians for people like the Palanivel and Dmytriyeva families (The Age, 19/5). Like many Victorians, I was separated from family members for most of last year by state border closures. I really feel for the thousands of Australians faced with the prospect of not seeing relatives for another year or longer.

The Prime Minister is obviously very happy with the political benefits of keeping the borders closed. For the sake of the economy and the many people who need to travel in and out of Australia for personal reasons, the government should act with urgency to improve the vaccine rollout, increase capacity in quarantine, and produce a concrete plan to open the borders to more people as soon as possible.
Kate Jackson, Kew

Please explain this ’plan’

The Age has been running hot over the past week with articles about people calling for us to end Fortress Australia and accept coronavirus into the community, culminating in your call for a “plan” to reopen the borders (Editorial, 18/5). None of the advocates for this nebulous “plan” are willing to put a date to it. At least Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka bluntly stated that we should accept people’s deaths for the return of free movement. Top marks for honesty.

The federal government is correct that we cannot control what is happening in the rest of the world. We do not know how long vaccine efficacy might last, how widely COVID may spread even after countries reach a threshold for herd immunity, and which variants may elude vaccine protection. Calls to reopen now are premature, and anybody doing so needs to offer more than the vague idea that it’s just common sense.
Mitchell Edgeworth, St Kilda

Roll out the rollouts

Department of Health associate secretary Caroline Edwards has conceded the department had underestimated the number of people living in disability homes and aged care facilities (The Age, 18/5). God help us if it cannot even tally up these very basic of figures.

In many ways Australia, and in particular the states, have kept our community safer than most of the world, but vaccines are available so expedite their rollout before winter and the next leak of COVID-19 cases hits Australia, as is bound to happen. My 98-year-old mother in aged care (phase 1a) is scheduled for her first jab today, months after rollout started. Our 24-year-old son (phase 1b) with disabilities, attending day programs for people with disabilities, was given his first jab of AstraZeneca along with us, his parents, in late April.
Anne Cherny, Camberwell

A tale of two countries

The US response to the pandemic in 2020 was a catastrophe – fuelled in part by an incompetent administration and fighting between federal and state governments – resulting in the highest death rate of any country to date. Australia was decisive, characterised by co-operation between our governments and the envy of most of the world.

Now, with a competent administration, the US has vaccinated almost a third of its population and is rapidly returning to normal. Australia has made a botch of the rollout with just over three million doses given. Sniping between federal and state governments is returning and there is no leadership willing to take responsibility and ensure the country can safely reopen and return to normal.
Bob Malseed, Hawthorn

Media beating up stories

How can we even hope to reach a situation where the population accepts we must learn to live with the virus, when our major news sources hail every single infected traveller as headline news?
Colin Howard, Hawthorn East

Conflicting city visions

While interest groups are trying to find innovative ways to entice people back to the CBD and return it to being an exciting, thriving hub, others with conflicting interests perceive its centre as being the ideal location for a second drug-injecting room (The Age, 18/5). This ignores the many problems and dangers associated with a facility of this kind being located within a high-traffic, restaurant, gallery, museum and entertainment precinct. It is difficult to see how the two visions can coexist. The most likely loser will be the CBD, which may be in danger of becoming a permanent ghost town.
Erica Grebler, Caulfield North

Big plans for the market

So, the Victorian Planning Authority has drawn up plans for an apartment block of up to 20storeys over Preston Market (The Age, 9/5).

Well, for those living in the gods, they will also need a sky link to a 20-storey platform with elevators over Preston Station. Probably a cable car. But why stop there?

What about a north-south sky link to the city? The first stop could be the MCG, where one of the light towers could be tweaked for a landing platform for sport fans. Then on to the city where the cable could be wrapped around the pointy end of the Eureka Tower before the return journey to Preston. For world-class infrastructure, this would have it all, with jobs and tourism potential galore. And a great photo opportunity for the Prime Minister taking the first ride.
David Hickey, Heidelberg

Our money for fossil fuels

It beggars belief that on the same day the International Energy Agency “calls last drinks on fossil fuels” (The Age, 19/5), our government decides to spend $600million of our money on a gas-fired power plant. A power plant that energy companies have decided is not worth investing in, otherwise they would have done it. The government’s catchcry is that it will not impose an extra burden on taxpayers to increase our access to renewable energy but it happily splashes our money to continue our reliance on fossil fuel. One can only ask why?
Marg D’Arcy, Rye

The question of oil

As an economist, although I am usually suspicious of government subsidies, I do approve the strategically based ones to our last two oil refiners – “Rescue deal for two local refineries saves 1200 jobs” (Business, 18/5). But the federal government still has not fixed our strategic oil reserve problem. Relying on American reserves in an increasingly troubled world is just stupid.
Henry Haszler, Eltham

Taking a local approach

Why has Australia become so reliant on overseas workers to top up our skilled and unskilled workforce? Employers might have gained cheaper labour costs but at what cost to the economy? With wages continuing to go backwards, isn’t it time to properly fund our universities and TAFE institutes?
Anne Wood, Birregurra

Dangerous provocation

What arrogance. Scott Morrison effectively inviting the Chinese to increase their sanctions with comments like “Beijing’s trade sanctions are like the traditional Chinese lion dance – mostly theatrical” (The Age, 19/5). I cannot imagine a more provocative attitude to damage our fragile relationship with our major trading partner.
Michael Cleaver, Southbank

Positives of aged care

Time for the affirmative of aged care. There is no need for Scott Morrison to go to a royal commission on this one. A litany of pluses. Grub, nutritious, plentiful, appetising and tastefully prepared by kitchen staff. Fresh fruit daily. I am not bullied into bingo, book club, art group, discussion group, word game or singalong, or even a daily shower. But all are available, 24/7. Currently my needs are minimal but I hear and see kind, gentle staff attending to those with greater ones. Perhaps it is serendipity or maybe I am just one of the lucky ones.
Jan Foye, Regis Aged Care, Armadale

We’re truly multicultural

Kevin Donnelly (Opinion, 18/5) presents a remarkably homogenous idea of Western civilisation that does not correspond to the “reality” he claims “proves otherwise”. He argues Australia is not a multicultural society because the majority identify as “Australian, English, Irish and Scottish, with six of the top 10 ancestries identifying as European”. Excluding those who identify only as Australian, the other nine European identities alone would make Australia a multicultural society.

I am sure the Greeks, Italians, Estonians, Serbians and Croatians who came here postwar were relieved to be embraced warmly as part of the same western civilisation as the Australians of diverse British and Irish cultures, and did not suffer discrimination for being different.

If Western civilisation is as unified as Donnelly suggests, there would not have been two world wars and the Holocaust. Furthermore, regardless of the number of people who identify as Indigenous, their stories, culture and survival are unique to this country and should be acknowledged and celebrated.
Dr Stewart King, school of languages, literatures, cultures and linguistics, Monash University

Undervalued, underpaid

Nicholas Cailes (Letters, 18/5), who earns $31 an hour after 12years’ experience as a disability support worker, wonders why he is undervalued. We should all wonder why the rate of pay is similar to that of a lollipop supervisor at a school crossing.
Shirley Videion, Hampton

Farewell to dingy Marvel

I agree with Tigers coach Damian Hardwick’s harsh criticism of Marvel Stadium (Sport, 17/5). It is a dingy and dirty venue, devoid of atmosphere. The series of unremitting and loud noises (music and mindless ground announcements) is truly off-putting. And why is the roof usually shut, even on pleasant days? My wife and I were there for an AFL game on May 1. We have decided to never return.
Peter Cahill, Brunswick

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

COVID-19

Could the government please tell us what’s the plan for the vaccinations and who is in charge?
George Stockman, Berwick

Virgin Airlines’ CEO has called for our borders to reopen, even if “some people may die” (19/5). The very ugly face of capitalism.
Carol Reed, Newport

Thanks, Jayne Hrdlicka. As long as you or your friends who don’t die, that’s OK.
Geoff McNamara, Newry

Hrdlicka shouldn’t worry. ScoMo will probably open our borders to coincide with the date of election, way before mid-2022.
Clarence Mitchell, Brighton

The PM is not prepared to ″⁣risk Australian lives″⁣ by opening borders. That should make the Australians abandoned in India feel safer.
Juliet Flesch, Kew

Any more vision of needles in arms and I will throw something at the TV.
Ross Barker, Lakes Entrance

The Liberals presenting a league ladder of vulnerability to excuse a failed vaccine rollout is the last refuge of scoundrels.
Ann Peers, Glen Iris

Environment

A new gas-fired power station? Wake up Australia.
Duncan Reid, Flemington

What do the PM and Rolling Stones have in common? It’s a gas, gas, gas.
Peter Cooke, Warrnambool

From a climate and environment perspective, the reduction of global population (18/5) is a cause for celebration – not regret.
Mark Dymiotis, Hampton

Furthermore

Bill Burns (17/5) gives policy tips for the ALP. It would be simpler to vote for the Greens.
Barbara Trauer, Northcote

Does a woman with cancer now undergo a chestectomy? Give us a break.
Maree Jeffs, Mooroolbark

How much more trauma can the snow skiing industry take? First it was climate change, then the pandemic and now the Dees are on top of the ladder.
Simon Hauser, Hawthorn

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