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Raising misinformation about vaccines and conspiracy theories as Australia prepares to release Pfizer booster for adults

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Raising misinformation about vaccines and conspiracy theories as Australia prepares to release Pfizer booster for adults

Australia will begin offering the Covid-19 vaccine to the adult population on November 8th. temporarily approved Pfizer’s vaccine as a third dose has been met with skepticism, misinformation and conspiracy theories online. Published in the form of messages and comments on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts in Australia, over the past week these stories have had a potential audience of hundreds of thousands.

Some social media users have suggested that the need for additional Covid-19 vaccinations means that previous vaccination efforts have failed. For example, on Fr. Post to Instagram from the TGA, one commenter asked if the approval of the boosters meant that the TGA recognized the two doses as ineffective. On Facebook, a nutritionist from Queensland made the erroneous statement that “previous methods really did not work.” On Facebook and Instagram, comments on news articles included similar questions and remarks.

Conspiracy theories that Australian politicians, the TGA, and U.S. pharmaceutical companies recommend making additional injections for financial gain have been common, including allegations of “kickbacks,” “political bribes,” fraud, and speculation. Some of these themes have also been common in cartoons and memes.

Many of the examples explain the broader false story that Covid-19 vaccines do not work or are unnecessary. The deceptive allegations spread on social media shortly after government reports, and it was clear data shortage regarding recommendations for booster vaccinations.

It would be useful for media organizations and other communicators to combine news with news interpreters addressing potential issues and concerns of people related to Covid-19 vaccines – in this case, why additional doses may be needed. – Lucinda Beeman

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