‘Graphic’ vaccine advert sparks backlash


An Australian vaccine advertisement has sparked a backlash, with many criticising its graphic depiction of a young woman suffering from Covid.

The government advert shows the woman in a hospital bed gasping for air while hooked up to a ventilator.

The text reads: “Covid-19 can affect anyone…Book your vaccination.”

But critics say the advert unfairly targets young people, considering under 40s will only be able to access the vaccines at the end of the year.

Official health advice also recommends that young people wait for a Pfizer jab instead of the available AstraZeneca jab. Australia has a shortage of Pfizer supplies.

The advert is currently only being shown in Sydney, which is in the grips of a Delta outbreak and is in its third week of lockdown.

Authorities reported 112 new cases on Monday, taking the total to over 700 cases since the strain first emerged in mid-June.

The release of the advert is part of a larger ‘Arm Yourself’ vaccination campaign which launched on Sunday.

“Completely offensive to run an ad like this when Australians in this age group are still waiting for their vaccinations,” tweeted broadcaster Hugh Riminton.

“Why are we targeting young people? Shouldn’t we be targeting the rising rate of vaccine hesitancy in over-55s?” said another Twitter user.

Others, including health professionals, called for the clip to be taken off air, calling it “insensitive”.

But the government has defended the advert.

Australia’s Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said it was “meant to be graphic” to “push the message home” about the need to stay home, get tested and book in vaccines.

“We are only doing this because of the situation in Sydney,” he said.

On Sunday, authorities in Australia’s largest city recorded the first death from the outbreak – the nation’s first locally-contracted Covid fatality all year.

The Sydney wave has sparked widespread criticism of the federal government’s vaccine rollout. It began in February but has been held back by a lack of Pfizer vaccine supply, public complacency and confused public health messaging about AstraZeneca’s risks.

Just over 10% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Click here to see the BBC interactive

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