The mainstream media consensus on COVID vaccinations is breaking apart in Australia as the host of the nation’s second most popular morning show bashes official recommendations for a fifth vaccine dose, reported by the News on Wednesday, February 8th.
In Australia, “defeating the pandemic became a matter of national pride,” as the country earned a well-deserved place among those with the harshest lockdown rules and most excessive push to get people vaccinated. It comes as no small surprise, therefore, that the country’s second-most viewed breakfast news program, Today Show, allowed its host to openly criticize Canberra’s recommendation to take another booster shot against COVID.
“There’s a big chunk of Australians that are done with it and a chunk that are happy to keep having [boosters],” Karl Stefanovic, Today’s host reportedly said, “shocking” viewers.
The remarks came after the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) updated its vaccine advice, announcing that anyone aged 18 and over will soon be eligible for another COVID shot, the fifth for people aged 65 and over. “The situation clearly changed; the virus has evolved,” said Canberra’s health minister, Mark Butler, following the decision. “So we need to update that protection [with] an additional dose.”
Discussing ATAGI’s recommendations, Stefanovic questioned the boosters’ efficacy and voiced his concerns over possible complications. “I have seen all those reports on the internet about fit and healthy people just dropping down with health issues,” he said. “It is still not obviously established yet, whether or not the vaccine causes some of the heart issues, [but] that is a worry for me more so than getting COVID.”
By percentage of vaccine recipients, Australia stands among the top countries globally. Among those aged 16 or over, 96.1% have received at least two COVID shots and 72.4% have had three. So far, only 27.5% took a fourth shot, but the new guidelines recommend it for more people—as well as a fifth for the elderly. With each subsequent booster, however, willingness to take it sharply decreases.
Stefanovic’s guest on the Today Show, medical expert Nick Coatsworth, dismissed the host’s concerns over side effects and insisted that Australians over 60 should still consider taking the latest booster. However, he also admitted that the efficacy of the shots fade over time. “If you get a fifth dose, your protection is enhanced for around about 8-12 weeks and then it returns,” Coatsworth said. “That is the problem with these boosters and eventually we will have to stop with these recommendations.”
Nonetheless, if Stefanovic’s change of heart is any indication, continuous COVID vaccination might have begun to overstay its welcome in Australia.