GP: Don’t listen to NRL anti-vaxxers

GOLD Coast doctors have warned of a rise in the number of people cancelling flu jabs after NRL players refused to get vaccinated.

Gold Coast Titans players Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly were stood down late last week for refusing to get the flu vaccination.

Cartwright and Kelly will not be allowed to train or play until they either accept the vaccination or are granted an exemption.

Bryce Cartwright at training last week before he was stood down. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Bryce Cartwright at training last week before he was stood down. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Dr Katrina McLean, head of the Gold Coast General Practitioners Association, said recent incorrect comments have the potential to cause "significant harm", particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Gold Coast GPs had have reported that they are having to spend time reassuring patients and debunking misinformation that is circulating on social media accounts," Dr McLean said.

 

"It's important to remember that almost all players have been immunised. Many have been proactive in doing so, and also in communicating the benefits.

"Unfortunately there are a very small number of players who appear to have created considerable media attention around their personal decisions to decline.

Doctors are concerned about the “significant harm” which the Titans players’ comments could cause.
Doctors are concerned about the “significant harm” which the Titans players’ comments could cause.

"When well known celebrities or sportspeople speak publicly on health related topics it has the potential to cause significant harm. The information we are seeing coming through to GPs to clarify has had absolutely no scientific validity."

Dr McLean said amplification of misinformation around vaccine safety while in the midst of a pandemic is something that puts the entire community at risk.

"As someone on the frontline it's disappointing to see the attention this is generating," she said.

"The medical guidance in Qld has got us to the enviable position we are in now. These are the experts that the community needs to continue to trust and listen to.

"There is a very real risk of an escalation in both influenza cases and COVID-19 cases. The combination of the two circulating in the Gold Coast community places us all at much higher risks. Our usual flu season pushes our health system to capacity. We have a window of opportunity now to all step up and protect ourselves and our community."

Doctors insist the jab is safe. Picture: iStock
Doctors insist the jab is safe. Picture: iStock

Dr McLean said the flu immunisation is safe and recommend for everyone over the age of 6 months. It does not cause the flu, nor does it increase the risk of COVID-19.

GP clinics can organise and safely administer both government funded and privately funded flu immunisations. GPs can also help people make sense of information posted on social media.

"We can 'fact check' and guide people to make informed decisions," she said.

"Choosing to get a flu immunisation is about much more than us as individuals. It's about how collectively we can come together to protect our entire community."

Another local doctor said the public are getting health messages from social media influencers, who without any medical expertise are using their public platforms to spread misinformation.

"Individuals have a right to refuse the vaccine but don't have the right to put the rest of the public at risk either through their opinions or actions."

Originally published as GP: Don't listen to Titans anti-vaxxers


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