The head of Australia’s Immunisation Coalition has raised concerns that some of society’s most vulnerable people may not receive the services they deserve because of unfounded concerns about COVID–19 vaccines.
- An NDIS provider has written to clients saying she will not treat them if they get a COVID–19 vaccine
- She says she is worried they could shed the virus
- The Immunisation Coalition says that is not possible
Coalition chairman Rod Pearce was shown an email to a patient’s grandson saying his care provider was removing her services to all clients who had received a COVID–19 vaccine, because of the “risk” of them shedding the virus.
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) client, who has autism, received a letter from social worker Matilda Bawden on April 7, which said she was suspending services to “service providers, clients, friends and family” who receive an inoculation.
“My staff and I will not be exposing ourselves to the risks of shedding as I have family members with autoimmune illnesses and so do many of our clients,” she wrote.
“I also have a family member who was severely vaccine-injured and is at risk of further harm should she contract another infection.”
The email also included a link to a friend’s social media page which featured anti-vaccine conspiracy theory videos.
‘Conspiracy theory’ worrying
Dr Pearce, an Adelaide GP, said the email came as a surprise.
“It was a shock to all of us when we first of all heard of this distress and then saw in writing this conspiracy theory and then obviously it added a level of concern to say their NDIS service was being withdrawn — obviously on a false premise — that having a vaccine was putting them or a client at risk,” Dr Pearce told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“I guess it’s just an awful sort of shock and wake-up call to us who spend so much time confirming and dealing with the facts around vaccines and making sure they’re safe that there’s a group of people out there who are so concerned at a conspiracy theory and getting fake news somewhere that they’ll actually withdraw services and support.”
He said COVID–19 vaccines did not put other people at risk in the way mentioned since they did not contain a live virus.
“It’s deliberately stimulating immune response without having COVID,” he said.
Worker concerned about risks
Ms Bawden is not a registered NDIS provider, but self-managed NDIS clients can choose to spend their funding with her business.
She told the ABC the email spoke for itself, but she was not sure if the copy given to Dr Pearce had been edited or not.
She said her clients were entitled to have any provider they chose and she had offered to have other providers replace her.
She was not concerned that clients might choose to not receive a vaccine so they could continue receiving her services, putting themselves at risk of contracting coronavirus.
“I’m taking a policy and a lot of my co-workers are doing the same thing,” she said.
An NDIS Commission spokesperson said both providers and workers, whether they were registered with the NDIS Commission or not, were required to follow the NDIS Code of Conduct.
“Amongst other things, the code requires providers and workers to act with respect for individual rights, provide supports and services in a safe and competent manner, and promptly take steps to act on concerns about matters that might impact the quality and safety of supports and services,” the spokesperson said.
“The withdrawal of supports that a person with disability relies on to meet their daily living needs and to maintain their health and safety, without consultation or putting in place alternative arrangements with a person, could constitute a breach of the code or conditions of registration
“The NDIS Commission has a range of powers available to respond to possible breaches by a provider or a worker. The NDIS Commission can take complaints from anyone about issues with an NDIS provider’s conduct.”
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