The most common reason why some Aussies are hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine has been debunked by experts.
The main concern people have around the jab is the worry that the vaccine isn’t safe because it’s been rushed.
But experts say this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, the process in developing vaccines has been sped up – which leading health commentators say should actually be seen as a good thing.
Dr Omar Khorshid, president of the Australian Medical Association, assures people they can feel safe.
“Australia has not rushed through emergency approvals of these vaccines,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald this week.
“Any vaccine used in Australia will have met the strict guidelines of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) before it is rolled out.”
Vaccinating against COVID-19 is the easiest way for Australians to get their normal lives back, but millions are hesitant to get the jab.
Our Best Shot is news.com.au’s campaign answering your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Dr Claire Hooker, specialist in disease risk communication at University of Sydney, said Aussies can “rest very easy” over any safety concerns.
“The fact is the coronavirus vaccines are very, very safe,” she said.
“We know this is true because everyone is really worried any lack of safety would have an ongoing impact on other vaccination programs, and our TGA sets an extremely high standard for ensuring vaccine safety.”
In November, Dr Mark Toshner, director of Translational Biomedical Research at the University of Cambridge, summed up the issue in a piece for The Conversation, saying 10 years to develop a vaccine is actually a bad thing.
“It’s not 10 years because that is safe, it’s 10 hard years of battling indifference, commercial imperatives, luck and red tape,” he wrote.
“It represents barriers in the process that we have now proved are ‘easy’ to overcome.”
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Professor Adrian Esterman, epidemiologist at the University of South Australia, also highlighted this in a recent piece in Our Best Shot campaign.
“Before this hit us, when we tried to develop preventive vaccines for other things, there is so much red tape and bureaucracy – it all takes months, if not years,” he said.
“What we’ve done this time is do them parallel, all together, so the phases run at same time which has sped the whole thing up. Rather than desperately trying to get funding, there’s been bucketloads spent on it.
“These vaccines have gone through a very rigorous process to make sure they’re safe and work, certainly for Western nations. This time it’s just been easier because of all the money spent and improvements on process and testing.”
Professor Esterman said Australia is one of the most stringent countries in the world for vaccine approvals.
“The TGA won’t allow it if it’s not safe and effective, full-stop,” he said.