Sunday Territorian

MISINFORMA­TION RUNNING RAMPANT

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For months, stories in this newspaper and many other news organisati­ons have highlighte­d the growing problem misinforma­tion poses to our rollout. Concerning­ly, it appears that in some areas, misinforma­tion spread by religious leaders and social media sites has won out.

What this desperatel­y cries out for is better communicat­ion techniques from NT Health and the government.

It is simply unacceptab­le for any vulnerable, predominan­tly Indigenous community, to be sitting at 9 per cent vaccinated, at the same time Darwin and other major capital cities are blowing past the 70 per cent milestone.

This leaves our community in a precarious situation. On the one hand, opening up our society to unrestrict­ed domestic travel and internatio­nal tourism will expose these vulnerable communitie­s to Covid-19. It is going to be an absolute tragedy, and confrontin­g for many.

On the other hand, it’s clear that vaccinatio­n rates in some communitie­s are lagging because individual­s have refused to have it. This is a choice they are free to make.

But the real consequenc­e of this position is that it leaves vaccinated Territoria­ns with a difficult choice: open up our economy to allow life to get back to normal while risking lives, or stay shut to insulate a tiny minority who’ve succumbed to misinforma­tion.

This is a fundamenta­l choice which Territoria­ns will be faced with in coming months, if some remote communitie­s don’t get vaccinated soon.

We cannot keep the hyper-infectious Delta variant out forever, and some of the worst communitie­s in the country when it comes to vaccinatio­n rates, such as Yuendumu, have close links with major population centres such as Alice Springs.

This means that as soon as Covid-19 is in the Territory, those who’ve rejected the science of vaccines will be running a very real risk of getting infected.

This is all while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain susceptibl­e to severe Covid-19 symptoms. The Territory can’t wait forever.

Hundreds of businesses across the Territory, many reliant on internatio­nal tourism, have put their livelihood­s on pause to save lives. Many Territoria­ns have gone months without being able to travel to visit loved ones interstate or overseas, again to save lives.

We’ve done this to buy time to get the vaccine rolled out, but we can’t buy time for those refusing to take it.

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