Anti-vaxxers are one of the biggest threats to public health in Australia but will not prevent a successful roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine, a local healthcare professional says.
Principal general practitioner of Finley Medical Centre Alam Yoosuff said addressing anti-vaccination misinformation was listed as one of the World Health Organisation's 13 urgent health challenges.
The Finely doctor also holds board positions with Murrumbidgee Local Health District and Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and is MLHD's director of public health but spoke to The Border Mail in his role as a GP.
"I think anti-vaxxers are the biggest threat to health in the world," he said. "Put aside COVID and anti-vaxxers are still a problem for people's well being and the world's well being."
WHO listed earning public trust and stopping the spread of misinformation is one of its priorities for the decade started 2020.
The organisation stated public health was "compromised by the uncontrolled dissemination of misinformation in social media" and the anti-vaccination movement was "a significant factor in the rise of deaths in preventable diseases."
Despite the dangers of anti-vaxxers, Dr Yoosuff does not believe they will prevent the government achieving its goal to vaccinate 80 per cent of residents by October.
"To be really truthful however much information, however much data or evidence or good vaccine we have, we will not convert those one to two per cent of anti-vaxxers to have the vaccine," he said.
"But in general Australian populations will listen to science and evidence. If you communicate with people properly and are transparent with what is going to happen and how it is going to happen, achieving 70 per cent coverage is no [issue].
IN OTHER NEWS:
"If we have about 95 per cent coverage in early childhood vaccination I don't see why we can't get to that level with the COVID vaccine."
GPs will play a vital role in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines and will be essential in educating residents and correcting misinformation, Dr Yoosuff said
He said although the vaccine was fast-tracked no shortcuts had been taken and each vaccine has undergone significant human trials.
"In the long run we need to have our community protected from COVID-19," he said. "We should take every opportunity to talk to people... and have open avenues to discuss any concerns, to try not let misinformation and lying to have bigger role in the community."