Coffs Harbor MP Gurmesh Singh brought more than 150 people to Brelsford Park after an anti-COVID vaccination rally over the weekend.
When asked if he was concerned about the vaccine rejection, Mr Singh said he had never been shy about speaking out against « anti-Vaxxers » and the Nationals MP did not hold back.
« I think they are some of the most ill-informed people we have in our society, » he said.
« The government is not going to force anyone to get vaccinated. I just think that, given the advances we have made in modern medicine, one of the most important ones has been the discovery of vaccination.
« It is very important to reopen our society and get it back to normal, and this vaccine will be the most important step in that. »
The vaccine rollout is well underway in various parts of the state, with frontline health workers and those working in quarantine environments being the first to get the sting.
There’s no word yet on when it will officially start in Coffs Harbor, and although there is a designated vaccination center here, Barilaro said there would be logistical difficulties in getting the Pfizer vaccine into the NSW area due to strict storage conditions are.
« If you have to store it at -78 degrees, it means it’s not the vaccine we’re going to be using down the line and we’ll be waiting for the AstraZeneca vaccine, » he said.
Mr Barilaro was similarly untouched by protesters in Coffs Harbor and did not believe that people in regional NSW were less likely to be vaccinated than their metropolitan counterparts.
« I’m confident that if you look at the numbers of previous vaccines … regional communities are growing and in most cases they are above 94-95 percent. »
« I have no problem with people demonstrating on their personal rights, but the truth will be that the only way to get herd immunity is to vaccinate the majority of the population. »
One of the main problems for protesters at last weekend’s anti-vaccination rally was that claims by politicians that the vaccine is not mandatory are hollow because past incentives made it difficult to opt out of vaccinations.
Incentives like No Jab, No Pay, which withhold some government payments from parents who don’t vaccinate their children, have often been criticized.
« The whole point is we have a taxpayer-paid public health system and we need to protect the integrity of that health system by making sure it doesn’t get overwhelmed by COVID cases, » he said.
« It’s the reason we had to have these lockdowns and the reason we had this quarantine system. All over the world we’ve seen health systems overwhelmed by COVID and we don’t want that. »
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