I’m not an infectious diseases expert but I worry about this week’s calls from New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant that children should be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Adults will make their choice and I can’t reiterate enough that that needs to be a free choice based on conscience.
For many Christians this will be a matter of prayer as well as conducting research and seeking medical advice.
All adult Australians have two sub-optimal choices before them: take a vaccine or catch Covid.
The risk of Covid is of course far greater for older and vulnerable people.
The Chinese Communist Party has a lot to answer for.
But children don’t have the competency to make health choices of this nature and it is adults who must step in for them.
“I think there will be a key role for vaccinating children,” Doctor Chant declared at the Sydney lockdown 11am daily media conference yesterday, now dubbed “Gladys O’clock”.
Chant was musing about what it would take to return to normal life.
Many people feel buffeted by the swirling flood of information, often contradictory, about Covid. Introducing the idea of vaccinating children was jarring.
However, almost immediately two infectious diseases experts responded urging caution, which just goes to show that our finger wagging CHO’s should not be seen as the font of all Covid wisdom.
The first to urge caution was Professor Peter Collignon from the Australian National University.
“I do not think we should vaccinate children until we have the data on safety among children,” he said.
The same could be said for adults because the vaccines have been fast-tracked to deal with the pandemic and their conditional approvals by health authorities here and overseas reflect a risk management approach.
Adults are competent to weigh this.
The second expert, University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist Robert Booy, also poured cold water on Chant’s declaration.
“Children are not a tool to be used” he said.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Booy as saying “the likelihood of catching COVID-19 from a child was 40 per cent lower than catching it from an adult and children were far less likely to become seriously ill”.
I can only reiterate these experts’ calls for caution.
The Christian Democratic Party supports Premier Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s declarations that vaccines will not be mandatory. We note governments have made an exception for some frontline health and aged care workers, something Morrison said was done reluctantly.
However, voluntary vaccination and no vaccine passports are non-negotiables.
Personal medical decisions must be respected, regardless of where people sit in relation to the Covid vaccines.
There’s no room for self-righteousness by people on either side.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s hectoring and demonising of the vaccine hesitant is not helping his cause.
Child vaccination needs a proper community debate informed by complete transparency, not a declaration at the daily media conference.
A final note. This is a very unsettling time for all of us who have been in lockdown now for almost three weeks.
It has come as a shock because many of us believed the worst was over and that NSW had been handling the pandemic better than most.
That has been shattered and with no clear timetable for coming out, we are living with uncertainty.
People are suffering.
Other Christian leaders have impressed the importance of not living in fear nor giving in to despair.
We have the promise of the Holy Spirit with us always and we should take comfort in that while we continue to look out for the welfare of those around us.
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Lyle Shelton is Director of Campaigns and Communications for the Christian Democratic Party. The Reverend Honourable Fred Nile MLC has nominated Lyle to succeed him in the NSW Parliament when he retires in November. To keep in touch with Lyle and the CDP, sign up here.