Anti-vaxxer ‘spam’ referred to AFP

The photo featured on Bruce MP Julian Hill's Facebook post.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Bruce MP Julian Hill has called for a public health education campaign after anti-vaxxers bombarded his Facebook page with “bat-s*** crazy nonsense”.

On 29 May, Mr Hill posted a photo of himself being vaccinated against Covid and urging others to get their “jab”.

In response, his post received a whopping 33,000 comments, including many warning against the “untested” and “experimental” vaccines.

One comment contained an image with the seeming endorsement of the Therapeutic Goods Administration logo, claiming the vaccines caused 210 “Covid-19 vaccine deaths” from 1 January to 23 May.

The image appears to have misrepresented a TGA safety report.

The safety report stated the TGA received 210 reports of deaths after Pfizer or AstraZeneca immunisation, but only one Australian death was linked to the vaccines.

“Apart from the single Australian case in which death was linked to TTS (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome), Covid-19 vaccines have not been found to cause death,” the safety report stated.

Mr Hill said Australia needed a “proper national information campaign to combat disinformation and this bat-s*** crazy nonsense being spread online”.

“People should check the Health Department’s website or talk to their doctor, not believe conspiracy theories and rubbish on the internet and social media.”

Mr Hill wrote to Health Minister Greg Hunt to call for a campaign..

“If you finally get around to commissioning an information campaign I would suggest that you find a different group of people though to those who came up with the milkshake ad.”

A spokesperson for Health Minister Greg Hunt said new ads launched in early May to inform 50s and over that they could receive the vaccine.

It featured leading medical authorities as a “counter to misinformation about the vaccines and provide assurance to the community”.

“This was also aligned with the doubling of the supplies to GPs.”

The Health Department also hosts information on its website, including an “Is It True?” section with answers to common questions in the community.

“As always, we suggest Australians get medical advice from medical experts, not Facebook.”

Meanwhile, the TGA has referred the alleged misrepresentation to federal police. The offence is punishable by up to two years’ jail.

“The alleged posting, particularly of false information surrounding deaths from ‘Covid-19 vaccines’ with the Department’s and TGA’s apparent endorsement is particularly concerning,” a TGA spokesperson said.

“The risk of such misinformation, in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, poses an unacceptable threat to Australians.

“The TGA is working with social media platforms to remove relevant posts, and has referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.”