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Tackling vaccine complacency near home

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For the past two weeks, I have been trying to get my parents to get the vaccine. They have been eligible since the beginning of May and can make an appointment via their general practitioner whenever they wish. They are going to have it. They just pushed him away.

I have been extremely frustrated with the slow pace of the vaccine rollout in Australia, especially looking out from Melbourne, where we are just emerging from a two week lockdown that might not have been necessary if more people had been vaccinated.

Damien, our office manager, is working on an overview article on how Australia and Asia, so successful in early containment of the virus, are now lagging behind in their vaccine rollout and facing months of isolation and uncertainty. (Watch out for this in the next few days.)

On a micro level, I think my parents – and a seemingly large number of Australians who have a similar mindset – are another part of the story: people who have no problem with vaccines, but because of complacency and the perception that we are more or less immune to the virus here in our fortress island, have little incentive to get vaccinated.

My parents are pro-vaccine, well educated and knowledgeable. The latter could be part of the problem – they became eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine shortly after the momentous government press conference late in the evening in which it announced the vaccine, due to extremely rare cases of blood clots. , was no longer recommended to people. under 50, and consumed much of the breathtaking media coverage that followed.

They also live in Sydney, where there has not been a serious outbreak since December and where the coronavirus smells of distant continents, or at least states. “We’re not taking a lot of risk anyway,” my father said in early May. “There are people who need it most right now, we’ll let them go first.”

I have to admit that complacency has crept into my own thinking as well. When my parents told me they were going to wait, I pretty much went there: I’ll take care of that later. I was talking to them about it, but I needed to mentally prepare myself for what could be a really long conversation, so I would when I had the time and the energy.

And although I knew very well that the risks of the vaccine were minimal, it is different in practice when it is the people who matter to you. What if I push them to get it and then something happens? I could have this conversation with them anytime. It didn’t need to be now, since there was no immediate risk anyway.

Then, of course, Melbourne had another outbreak and the prospect of weeks of lockdown got me out of my complacency.

The only good thing about the lockdown is that it’s a great talking point: “It could happen in Sydney anytime! We are not yet free from the virus! Don’t you want me to visit you? I can’t do this if we keep having blockages! “

But even now, that sense of urgency doesn’t seem to have struck. They haven’t seen much pressure from the government to get people vaccinated. It’s not like the epidemic in Victoria affected them on a practical level (they sent me pictures of them hiking with friends, which I couldn’t help but notice. ‘being slightly resentful in Melbourne). In Sydney, which has been fairly successful in containing the virus without imposing lockdown level restrictions, the risk of another outbreak still does not appear to outweigh the tiny risk from the vaccine.

They come there. They understand that it takes weeks between doses, which means it doesn’t make sense to get it only when there is a risk of an outbreak in Sydney. And more people they know are now vaccinated.

This week, they finally announced that they would make an appointment to be vaccinated. That doesn’t mean they’ll do it immediately, and it’s possible they were just saying it to appease me, but still, I count it as progress.

What do you think of the progress of the deployment of the vaccine in Australia? Write to us at nytaustralia@nytimes.com.

Now for this week’s stories:



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