The Australian Medical Association’s (AMA’s) South Australian chief says he is concerned by an “upswell” in anti-vaxxer activity amid coronavirus in recent weeks, after a state MP’s office was targeted yesterday.
- Labor MP Chris Picton says his office was “plastered” with anti-vaxxer messages
- The AMA says the incident appears to be part of a bigger trend
- State president Dr Chris Moy is concerned about the long-term impact
Labor health spokesman Chris Picton said he returned to his office yesterday evening to find anti-vaxxer posters “plastered” over the windows.
It follows other reported incidents in recent weeks, including a recent protest in Melbourne in which a crowd of suspected anti-vaxxers clashed with police.
AMA state president Dr Chris Moy said the latest incident was concerning, but appeared to be part of a broader “upswell” in conspiracy theories related to COVID-19.
“It’s very sad that individuals have to use aggressive or illegal means to make a point and impose their views in these sorts of situations,” he said.
“People become extremely paranoid at home and [are] getting worked up about specific topics, particularly in regards to conspiracy theories about COVID-19, such as 5G and Bill Gates being the reason for it. “
Anti-vaxxers ‘essentially extremists’
Mr Picton said he returned to his office yesterday evening and found anti-vaxxer “propaganda” had been stuck to it.
He said he decided to “call them out” and posted a photo on Twitter, but was now getting trolled by people “all around the world”.
“I forgot something in the office and dropped back in and noticed about 6:00 pm that people had put up posters on one side of my office with anti-vaccination messages on them,” Mr. Picton said.
“I posted this online last night and [there was] huge support… of people saying we support science, we support vaccination to protect us.
“But overnight… it had been shared amongst all the worldwide anti-vaccination, anti-Bill Gates, pro-conspiracy theory groups and now it’s been flooded with comments.”
Dr Moy said, despite the fact that a coronavirus vaccine was unlikely to be available any time soon, groups opposed to vaccination appeared to have been emboldened by coronavirus.
Dr Moy said while the arguments against vaccination had been comprehensively “debunked”, he was worried that – if and when a viable coronavirus vaccine goes into production – the anti-vaxxer movement “could be an impediment” to herd immunity.
“That’s a big issue for a doctor like me,” he said.
“There have been precedents of this in the past… in terms of the vaccination of measles and whooping cough, where the anti-vax movement has had a significant influence in keeping the number of people vaccinated down.”