Vaccine’s ‘acceptable’ risks unevenly shared in new rollout

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Vaccine’s ‘acceptable’ risks unevenly shared in new rollout

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

For people under 50, a negligible risk of death from COVID-19 and a possibly higher risk of the clotting disorder is matched to the offer of a vaccine without the risk (“Vaccine targets dumped by PM”, April 12). People over 50, however, are encouraged to accept the AstraZeneca dose on the grounds of the large difference between the risk of dying of COVID-19 as against the “acceptable” risk of dying from complications associated with the vaccine. In common parlance, “acceptable risk” is subjective; in public health speak it is arbitrary and, where a relatively risk-free alternative (Pfizer) is available, it appears unjustifiable. Given the lack of community transmission, and the unlikelihood of a widespread outbreak, there is no extraordinary urgency to vaccinate this cohort. The current cost/benefit ratios divide the population into two groups – younger people, who are taken care of – and older people, who must take their chances. - Kathryn Davy, Hazelbrook

The PM thinks that no Australian would want the Chinese (Sinovax) or Russian (Sputnik) vaccines. What egregious nationalism. What if those vaccines are more efficacious than the vaccines developed in the West? Should we not be looking at the scientific evidence and making a rational decision, rather than foolishly widening already existing geopolitical chasms? - Anthony Baker, Oatley

Hindsight is a beautiful thing! Maybe the government could have contracted for other vaccines, but did anybody know that the vaccine we ordered could have potentially deadly side effects? Does anybody know whether the alternatives now proposed, and yet to be approved, will have similar side effects? I intend to take whichever I am offered when my turn rolls around. What I won’t take any longer is the carping and point scoring masquerading as news that serves only to alarm. - Sue Hoad, Merewether

I couldn’t agree more with Fred Jansohn (Letters, April 12). I fear the reason we are not all being given the Pfizer dose may have more to do with having enough jabs rather than patient health and safety. We have very few cases and there is no need to rush. My wife and daughter were both vaccinated with AstraZeneca and both were bedridden for several days. Pfizer for everyone, I say. - Michael Keene, Stanwell Park

Scott Morrison puts vaccination policy with climate change policy and equal numbers of women MPs in the Coalition. If you don’t have a target, you can’t miss it apparently. - Brenton McGeachie, Queanbeyan West

Illustration by Matt Golding.

Illustration by Matt Golding.Credit:Fairfax Media

Perhaps we need to feel a bit sorry for Scott Morrison. He has done a whiz-bang job of marketing his COVID-19 vaccine response – millions of doses, first in the queue etc. The plan was then to arrive on a magnificent white horse, vaccine for everybody, and then on to an election win. Unfortunately, he has arrived on a three-legged donkey and lost his packhorses. - Patrick Bone, Terrigal

Baby boomers of a certain age remember mass vaccination programs for polio in the 1950s. They worked. Handled by competent public servants, without the internet and emails and when few households had a home phone, the message went out and mums and children rolled up at mass vaccination centres. There were anti-vaxxers then as now, but the vaccine was available for everyone who wanted it. - Caroline Pettigrew, Turramurra

How wrong can these bureaucrats get it? You wouldn’t trust the people in charge of the vaccine rollout to go out and do the shopping. - Paul Everingham, Hamilton

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I suspect that if AstraZeneca were the only vaccine available, there would be little, if any, dialogue, debate or confusion about its efficacy. - Robert Ballinger, Pymble

Joining war in Afghanistan fomented ‘debased culture’

The disturbing revelations of the alleged behaviour of Australia’s most highly decorated soldier Ben Roberts-Smith while on duty in Afghanistan shames us all (“Buried evidence and threats: How Ben Roberts-Smith tried to cover up his alleged crimes”, April 11). Images of soldiers parodying the Ku Klux Klan and drinking from the prosthetic leg of a deceased Afghan soldier are proof positive of a debased culture of white supremacy among our most elite fighters. Ultimately, it is not only the behaviour of Roberts-Smith that must be held into question but the government itself for sending our soldiers into wars that are a perverse extension of our own racial and religious prejudices. - Rev Dr Vincent Zankin (Former ADF chaplain), Rivett, (ACT)

Allegations of unlawful executions; drinking from the prosthetic leg of a Taliban fighter killed by an Australian soldier; dressing up in a Ku Klux Klan gown and holding a noose. Are these men already like this before they join the army, or is it what happens to them after that makes them this way? It brings to mind the saying by the English writer Samuel Johnson: “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” - Alicia Dawson, Balmain

In the Afghan war, there are and were wrongs on both sides. But Australia is a modern democracy, invading another country, and the plain fact is that by the time of Ben Roberts-Smith, the situation had deteriorated. We could no longer excuse ourselves by claiming the high moral ground, if, indeed we ever could. We trained these young men to the extent that they followed the orders of our government and our US allies without question. Every Australian shares their guilt and the responsibility for not making our leaders follow a more reasoned, more justifiable, course of action. - Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

Entitlement, deceit, brutality, misogyny, toxic rampant masculinity in the guise of heroism, all in one package. - Gail Hewison, Birchgrove

Will the “freedom-loving” Coalition government now send in the AFP and put those (The Age, Herald, 60 Minutes) journalists responsible for exposing the repugnant behaviour of our SAS soldiers in front of a secret trial, as they did with David McBride? - Paul Sutcliffe, Fern Bay

When a nation embarks on a morally indefensible course of action such as the war in Afghanistan, you can end up with a decent man (whoever he was) posing in Ku Klux Klan garb for a souvenir photo, then perpetrating far worse acts in the field. Afterwards, the nation as a whole wears the shame. The toll from that war will reverberate for years to come. The full cost in damaged lives will never be known. - Margaret Johnston, Paddington

Look past the constructed image

The cries of despair from your correspondents resonate with citizens across the city as they bear ongoing witness to the destruction of greater Sydney. (Letters, April 12). Let us ponder just how the political system which allows this to happen operates. We have a popular and charismatic Premier who provides the perfect front for a gargantuan and sophisticated operation which is transforming our beautiful natural and built environment into a sterile wasteland of concrete and steel. Only occasionally do we get a peep behind this carefully constructed image of competence and concern, to see a network of integrated decision-making which is as locked away from public view as any high security operation. Remember the taped telephone conversation between our Premier and Daryl Maguire? “I don’t need to know about that bit.” Yes you do Premier, we all do. And all the other ‘bits’, because the consequences are immeasurable. They are ruining our city and trashing our environment. - Rosemary McDonald, Beecroft

Your correspondents express concern that bushland, koala habitat and grasslands around Campbelltown and Appin are to be replaced by a sea of metal roofs. But it should come as no surprise. This is planning from the same state government that has razed hundreds of mature trees in many Sydney suburbs, allows suburban landowners to remove trees without council approval and has overseen the clearing of hundreds of thousands of hectares of native vegetation in rural areas. - Geoff Wannan, Dawes Point

Campbelltown councillors could surely not have been so naive as to fail to predict the now much denounced outcome in their area. Councils usually promote expansion, developers are driven by profit motive and state governments by politics and associated revenues – betting agencies would have regarded it as a lay-down misere. - Harry Polley, Dural

A key phrase in the letter of former Campbelltown councillor Frank Ward was this: “developers are not responsible for developing public transport policy”. Why not? Surely any development application to state or local governments should cover the provision of public transport. - Bruce Stafford, Tascott

Half mast irony

Oh the irony of it (“Sydney farewells Prince”, April 12). The Aboriginal flag on top of the SCG at the footy on Saturday night was flown half mast in remembrance of a man who represented an institution whose imperialistic actions decimated the culture which that flag represents. - Trevor Smith, Culburra Beach

I’m not a fan of the institutionalised privilege of British royalty, however I’m much less a fan of allowing politicians to change our system of government. My reason for objection is, politicians can’t be trusted to put the best interest of the country ahead of their own or their party. What also needs to be kept in mind is, the rubbish decisions created by these people, would only be discovered in practice and hindsight. Leave well enough alone. - John Macintosh, Merewether

It seems that a referendum will be unnecessary. Judging from the Herald coverage, the republican cause is doomed. - Jeremy Parsons, Milton

Instead of volunteering to the world statements about how his father was the grandfather of the nation and how stoical his mother is, Prince Andrew could perhaps instead come forward and speak to American investigators about his involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s activities (“The Queen says Prince Philip’s death has left ‘a huge void’ in her life”, smh.com.au, April 12). His selective loquacity is remarkable. And raises the spectre of his rehabilitation via bereavement. - Alex Mattea, Sydney

Rather than a step towards a republic, Prince Philip’s passing is a nail in the coffin for the republican movement. - George Fishman, Vaucluse

All the tributes now for Prince Philip … So why was Tony Abbott so wrong to bestow on the Prince the Knight of the Order of Australia? - Nan Howard, Camden

Complicity in animal abuse

The incompetence of Tasmania’s Van Dairy farm management has left me flabbergasted and sick to my stomach. (“Chinese owner’s ‘catastrophic failure’ grinds down farm giant”, April 10-11). How could the Foreign Investment Review Board leave the mismanagement of Australia’s largest dairy farming business unchecked for so long? Regardless of whether the government is choosing not to ruffle more feathers regarding Chinese investments, whilst our regulators stand by allowing this appalling situation to continue, they can be considered as nothing less than complicit in this gross animal welfare abuse and systemic environmental damage. - Jo Norman, Gerringong

Give Fox the brush

Private Sydney may be welcoming the Murdochs back but the news gave this reader a sick feeling (“Murdochs look poised to air Fox News shows in Australia”, April 12) . I was a 38-year resident of the US and I saw how Fox News changed the whole political climate in America from 1996. It was not for the better. The radicalisation of moderate Republicans culminated in the election of Donald Trump and, ultimately, the trashing of the Capitol building. On a personal level. I lost long-time friends and saw families splintered. Christmas, Thanksgiving and other celebrations became fraught. We do not need the toxicity of the Murdoch Fox News here. - Victoria Harrington, Thirroul

What would Tommy think?

As an old Magpie fan, I felt totally defeated on Sunday afternoon. Tuning in to Channel 9 to watch a game pre-packaged as a tribute to Tommy Raudonikis, I found the Tiger-obsessed commentators couldn’t once bring themselves to call the home team “Wests”. My only joy was that I’m sure Tommy would have appreciated an outsider team playing against the crowd and the great No.7 did that quite often with Wests against the Tigers at Leichhardt during his wonderful career. - Andrew Stark, East Gosford

Royal legacy

No human’s life is lived in vain. The passing of Prince Philip has brought Mike Carlton back to the Herald (“Not-so-sweet prince made the best of it”, April 12). Glory be. - Brian Haisman, Winmalee

I couldn’t stop laughing at Carlton’s description of how Prince Philip received his knighthood from “the Onioneater”. Brilliant. - David Vale, Cremorne Point

Goonoo. Who knew?

What about Goonoo Goonoo which, like Mogil Mogil, is not audibly repetitive (Letters, April 12)? - Ian Falconer, Turramurra

What about Gin Gin, just up the road from Bundy. - Zuzu Burford, Heathcote

Grong Grong. - Ted Richards, Batemans Bay

The digital view

Online comment from the story that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
The secret COVID-19 death toll figure that had the NSW government terrified
From Dingocreekoldboy: “I used to be on the ‘abolish the states’ team but the COVID crisis has made me rethink that position. Duplication and political point-scoring aside, it has worked.”

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