Graphic vaccine ad triggers controversy in Australia

Sydney, Australia, Jul 12 (EFE).- Dramatic images showing effects of Covid-19 in a television advertisement released by the Australian government, aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated, has been widely criticized by sections of the population, who said it spreads fear and could cause greater anxiety over the disease.

The official video, targeting Sydney residents, shows a visibly distressed young woman on a hospital bed struggling to breathe while on a ventilator and ends with a text which says Covid-19 can affect anyone and people should book a vaccination appointment.

“Covid-19 vaccine ads from France to New Zealand are about hope & restoring freedom & normality. Australia has opted for fearmongering,” conservative columnist Rita Panahi, whose Twitter handle has over 254,500 followers, tweeted on Monday.

However, John Frewen, the commander of the Australian government’s Covid taskforce, insisted that the advertisement was effective.

“It is confronting, but it leaves people, I think, in no doubt about the seriousness of getting COVID,” Frewen said in a TV interview whose transcript was released by the health department.

Frewen also highlighted the alarming Covid situation in Sydney, where an outbreak triggered by the Delta strain has resulted in a rising number of cases despite a lockdown being imposed on Jun. 26. Authorities have indicated that lockdown could be extended for many weeks.

The New South Wales province, which includes Sydney, accounted for all of Australia’s in 112 locally acquired Covid infections on Monday – the highest daily caseload for the country this year.

With less than 10 percent of its over 25 million inhabitants fully vaccinated, Australia has launched the “arm yourself” ad campaign to encourage the population to get inoculated with the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine.

But the campaign, aimed at young Australians, has also been criticized as the people below the age of 40 lack access to the Pfizer vaccine, which has been mainly made available for the 40-60 years age group.

“Why would you use a young person in your scary ad warning them they could get seriously ill with COVID when young people currently can’t get vaccinated because your own government has monumentally botched the vaccine rollout? What an absolute shambles,” tweeted mental health advocate Jill Stark.

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