Scott Morrison AstraZeneca
(Image: AAP/David Caird)

In Both Sides Now, author and ethicist Leslie Cannold presents two sides of an argument and then passes the mic to the reader. Last week she took on the topic of vaccination: should Australians over 50 get the AstraZeneca jab or wait for Pfizer? And Crikey readers have been near unanimous in their response: we’ll take what the PM’s having, thank you very much.

Catherine Stuart writes: As on over 50, I want Australia to open up again but I also want to be able to enjoy open Australia and perhaps travel overseas — not stay at home in fear of getting sick. I am being asked to play vaccine Russian roulette on the basis that I’m more vulnerable due to my age, only to end up less protected than the majority of the population. There is no logic to this, only ageism.

There is also something inherently problematic at a policy level about offering less protection to any one part of the population compared to the majority. I was fine with the concept of AstraZeneca (minus the blood clot risk) when it was going to be the standard for the majority of the population, and of course I had no issues about some people getting a higher level of protection. Now the situation is reversed and the majority is being offered a higher level of protection. The only reasonable position is for everyone to be offered at least the level of protection offered by Pfizer.

Kayleen Mollenhagen writes: I am over 50 and I will not be getting the AstraZeneca jab. I don’t think it is fair that the government is giving the older people the shit jab. Maybe they should have done their homework a bit better and ordered more of the better ones. And as for saying that we have to do it for the young people who were in lockdown? Well, guess what, we were too!

Katrina Arnold writes: I think that the government needs to listen to the population in Australia. Just telling everyone over 50 years that they must accept the inferior AstraZeneca jab because they were lax in ordering sufficient superior vaccines is unfair to that age group. It sends a message that this particular age group who have worked and paid taxes all their lives are dispensable.

I think that every Australian deserves to receive the very best vaccine on the market and it is not fair to say that a certain age group is deemed to be less worthy or dispensable. I certainly will not be putting my arm out for an AstraZeneca jab. I would like a Pfizer vaccine, the same as the one our prime minister received.

Teresa Fester writes: There is no way in hell my husband and I are getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. We are 66 and 70 this year and we both have underlying health issues, mine being autoimmune disease and his being cardiac. At our age, we should have already received the vaccine which has the best safety and effectiveness rating — which at this stage is the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

I have never been an anti-vaxxer and have had many, many vaccinations in my lifetime. I believe in vaccination. However, until the medical professionals have more answers about who is and is not at risk [of adverse side effects], I believe Australia should totally exclude the AstraZeneca vaccine as an option for its population immediately.

Richard Davoren writes: Seniors have an opportunity to be vaccinated now and they should take that opportunity. Yes, Australia has been fortunate not to fall victim to the virus in the way some countries have, but like my little pet rabbit when myxomatosis was raging outside her cage, it was only a matter of time when that cage would cease to protect her. Vaccination was the only option for survival. Better a 87% chance of survival than 0%.

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Peter Fray

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