When flu vaccination became compulsory on 1 May for anybody entering a residential aged care facility, the online backlash from resident family members and aged care employees was both surprising and disturbing.

In response to the growing chorus of anti-flu vaccination sentiment, HelloCare surveyed over 1,700 members of our online Aged Care Workers Support Group and were shocked to find that nearly one in five workers were still opposed to flu vaccination.

While there were many who revealed that they would receive the vaccination in order to comply with new regulations, others stood defiantly proclaiming that they would not be ‘blackmailed’ into injecting ‘poison’.

In recent weeks, stances against flu vaccination in aged care have evolved beyond the keyboard as a growing number of family members and aged care employees have encountered real-life consequences for applying their views in the real world.

Recently, health and wellness coach Lisa Wiedrich made headlines in Queensland after it was reported that she decided to take her mother out of aged care and move her into a granny flat as a result of not wanting to be vaccinated in order to visit her mum.

Although Ms Wiedrich does not consider herself ‘anti-vaccination’, she claims to have worked in the pharmaceutical industry in the past and cites becoming ill as a result of previous flu vaccination as one of her personal deterrents.

Aged care employees have also decided to take a stand against mandatory vaccination with registered nurse Anki Groening becoming one of a small number of aged care employees who have decided to walk away from their job altogether.

Recently, there have been claims that an aged care worker from NSW has won a court case against mandatory flu vaccination and is now receiving full pay while not going to work.

Attempts to verify this claim are ongoing and HelloCare has reached out to the alleged law firm involved in the case but is yet to receive a reply.

However, if these claims are found to be correct, this decision would have the potential to set a dangerous legal precedent for providers who are simply attempting to comply with government regulation.

Experts Vs Influencers

President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Tony Bartone, has urged the Australian federal government to embark upon a strong pro-vaccine information campaign to combat growing anti-vaccine trends.

Mr Bartone was also highly critical of entertainment outlets that allow celebrities to promote their anti-vaxxer beliefs without being challenged by the realities of science.

These calls come only 24-hours after controversial celebrity chef Pete Evans’ appeared on Kyle and Jackie O’s popular Monday morning radio show and spoke out against vaccination.

“Anyone who speaks against the science of vaccination needs to expect to be slapped down by scientific sources,” said Mr Bartone.

“Anyone who gives a platform to anti-vaxxer messages should similarly expect to be also held to a similar account.”

While celebrities of yesteryear were well known for their ability to shape trends relating to style, the influence of celebrity in 2020 goes far beyond what is being played out on television, radio, or the sporting field.

Social media has given the public a window into the real-life views of their favourite celebrities, and the intimacy of this process creates a perceived level of trust which allows them to wield considerable influence over their adoring fans.

Unfortunately, celebrities can actually face backlash for failing to weigh-in with their opinion on socially-relevant topics that they have no expertise \ in, while other stars are more than happy to present their uneducated opinions as fact.

Over the years, there have been countless well-known figures who have spoken out against vaccination.

This list includes names like Rober DeNiro and pre-presidential Donald Trump who made bold claims that vaccinations are linked to autism.

Warnings from the Australian Medical Association regarding vaccine misinformation come after it was revealed that senior government officials have been flooded with correspondence from people who are opposed to vaccination.

This worrying trend has also increased fears that new waves of scepticism have the ability to undo decades of immunisation progress in Australia.

“The important message is that everyone, from governments right down to all health authorities, has a role to ensure the appropriate funding and the appropriate resources are available so that people can differentiate the good from the bad and the downright deadly,” said Mr Bartone.

Clearly, there needs to be significant resources put into the community about the importance of public information, the importance of public health education right from the earliest years.”


Photo Credit – iStock – Khosrork

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