Inner West Independent

COVID-19 misinformation junk mail

A letter spreading misinformation about COVID-19 brings a new meaning to "junk mail". Photo: Eva Baxter

By EVA BAXTER

Residents across the Inner West have reportedly been receiving anonymous letters spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

The letter comes as the rollout of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine begins this month. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is one of 16 hubs across Australia set to begin administering the vaccine.

Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program will initially see those most vulnerable or who have the highest risk of being exposed to or spreading the virus get the vaccine. This includes frontline healthcare workers, quarantine and border workers and aged care and disability care residents and workers.

The letter, dropped into residents mailboxes, urged citizens to sign petitions against forced vaccinations. Despite claims made in the letter, the COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary and free.

Linda Frow, a resident in the Inner West, was one of many who received the letter.

“I was actually quite shocked to see this letter and to think people around here would actually believe this kind of stuff,” she told the Inner West Independent.

Ms. Frow said rather than taking information from anonymous sources, she gets her trusted information about COVID-19 from the ABC and the input of Dr Norman Swan. She said she doesn’t think people in her community would be influenced by the letter.

“I would hope that people could see through it,” she said.

Critical thinking key

Inner West resident David McGrath relies on the formal advice from the health department and government when it comes to COVID-19. He said it doesn’t concern him that people in his community could be vulnerable to believe misinformation.

“People can pick up on any written material and determine that it could be valid,” he said.

“I guess to a certain degree it is inevitable that people will express different views. The most important thing is people develop the capacity to critically analyse stuff and find out a reasonable source of challenging any material they read.”

11 hubs in NSW have been confirmed to provide vaccinations, but they are not currently taking bookings from the public. Vaccines will be available across additional settings including GP clinic and community pharmacy.

The vaccine is expected to be available to the general public once the vaccine becomes available through general practice.

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases and when enough people in the community are vaccinated, it slows down the spread of disease. NSW Health has a vaccination target of 95 percent.

Even when the vaccine starts to be administered to the general community, it will still be important to practise COVID-safe behaviour.

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