Conspiracies grip Indigenous communities

·2-min read

Conspiracy theories, complacency and blood clotting concerns are driving low vaccination rates in Indigenous communities.

More than 96,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

But the figure translates to little more than 10 per cent of the national Indigenous population and in some remote communities, only a handful of people have received a jab.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt is working with community leaders to boost vaccination rates through targeted advertising and door-knocking campaigns.

Mr Wyatt said reports of blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca jab had created fear and there was a false sense of security about the risk of COVID-19 in some areas.

There have been 150 cases of coronavirus in Aboriginal communities throughout the pandemic but no deaths have been recorded.

"In a couple of instances I've had people say this is not a disease problem for us, it's in mainstream Australia," Mr Wyatt told ABC radio on Monday.

"But people are now seeing there is a need, particularly with the Delta strain, to vaccinate."

Indigenous communities have also been targeted by people peddling wild conspiracy theories.

"Social media has been detrimental in some of the conspiracy theories, some of the stories around why people shouldn't have the vaccine," Mr Wyatt said.

"We've got to engage the elders and some of our leadership to say no, don't listen to what's on there, have your vaccine."

The minister warned people spreading dangerous myths were putting Indigenous lives at risk.

"For some unknown reason within our communities, this conspiracy theory element is problematic," he said.

"People who do that have to consider the implications of what they are doing if they scare people into not having it and then we have a series of deaths."

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