The COVID-19 vaccination program is the largest and most accelerated adult vaccination program ever to have been undertaken in history.
Following the article Serious adverse events of special interest following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination in randomized trials in adults in the journal Vaccine (and subsequent open letter in The British Medical Journal), and the position statement by OzSAGE on the importance of managing COVID vaccine adverse events, it is clear that the surveillance and management of adverse events are critical to ensuring the integrity of, and confidence in, vaccination programs.
Unfortunately, despite there being a known risk of adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccinations, the Australian Government has not yet developed a national framework to support medical practitioners to recognise, assess and treat serious acute and chronic adverse reactions following COVID-19 vaccination. This lack of a national response has had a profound and detrimental effect on many Australian lives.
As with any medical intervention, decisions on vaccination must be made on the basis of a contemporary risk-benefit assessment, and informed consent must be given.
This decision-making process becomes more difficult when there is no infrastructure for assessing vaccine adverse events for adults (children are able to access specialised paediatric clinics, however, adults make up 80% of the population and are not catered for).
In the context of this medical abandonment, people are not accessing diagnostic tools or specialist treatment that should ordinarily be made available to them. They are also not qualifying for the COVID-19 vaccination claims scheme without this medical recognition.
Eighteen months into the vaccine rollout, we formed a pro-(safe) vaccines group of COVID-19 vaccine injured people to begin to advocate in a science-led way, to the government and the medical field, in an attempt to correct this situation.
We are one part of an urgent vaccines-plus, lived experience response to COVID-19 (“nothing about us without us”). We launched just as policies to protect vulnerable people (including those of us unable to be safely vaccinated) have been abandoned in October 2022, and call for renewed actions to ensure disabled/at-risk people are included socially and economically as the pandemic continues into its fourth year.