Australian doctors are seeing a surge in people asking for medical exemptions so they can avoid the Covid vaccine.
During an interview with ABC News Breakfast on Wednesday, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president, Dr Karen Price, said the tactic has become “extraordinarily frustrating”.
She said the reasons people are seeking exemptions are based on “a dose of misinformation”.
“You don’t need to get an exemption letter. There’s very, very few contra-evaluations to the vaccine. If you didn't have one vaccine, you can have another,” she said.
“We need to get on with seeing our patient. We need to get on with the vaccine rollout.
“What we would like is for people who think they need an exemption to come to us and have a talk about what their fears and concerns are.”
Dr Price said a lot of the calls for exemptions are unfounded, but the biggest reason people are wanting to avoid the Covid vaccine is fear and a lack of trust.
“They feel there's some big conspiracy around the world or something, but vaccination is the way out of the pandemic,” she said.
“We saw the tragic news of a 46-year-old man booked in and losing his life, and his family urging vaccination. This is the science.”
Dr Price said the misinformation patients are coming in with is “really quite extraordinary”.
“And it comes with sometimes, unfortunately, a fair bit of abuse,” she said.
“In my role I certainly get all sorts of people saying to me all sorts of things from … jail time, and what I'm doing to the population by talking about vaccination.
“So there's a lot of very angry and very confused people out there, and I really would urge them to have a more, you know, respectful discussion with doctors who are actually there to give them the science and help them through the difficult time.”
NSW achieved 80 per cent first-dose Covid-19 vaccination coverage in people 16 and older on Wednesday.
Across Australia, 68.5 per cent of people over the age of 16 have had at least one dose, with 43.2 per cent fully vaccinated, the federal government announced on Tuesday.
Unvaccinated Covid patients fill Australian hospitals
Just two per cent of coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care since Australia's vaccine rollout started were fully vaccinated. As of Wednesday morning 234 people were in intensive care wards in NSW hospitals – 185 of them had not received a vaccine jab.
New figures underscoring the power of immunisation have revealed a whopping 86 per cent of people needing intensive care treatment in Australia had not received a single dose.
Monash University's SPRINT-SARI project examined 574 ICU admissions since February 22, when the first vaccines started to be rolled out across the nation.
Only 13 people, or two per cent, had received two doses, while 69 - the equivalent to 12 per cent - had a single shot.
The remaining 492 patients were unvaccinated.
Infectious diseases epidemiology professor Allen Cheng of Monash University said younger people, including pregnant women, were featuring more prominently in intensive care admissions in recent weeks.
“The shift in age of those admitted to ICUs is anticipated, given older Australians were prioritised during the early phases of rollout,” he said on Wednesday.
“These figures again underscore just how much protection vaccinations offer in terms of your likelihood of getting seriously unwell with COVID-19.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.