MISINFORMATION RUNNING RAMPANT
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.