Home U.S 'Tinfoil-hat-wearing tossers' blamed for low vaccine takeup in indigenous community Australia

'Tinfoil-hat-wearing tossers' blamed for low vaccine takeup in indigenous community Australia

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The Northern Territory’s Chief Minister has blamed ‘tinfoil-hat-wearing tossers’ for the dangerously low vaccination rates within the vulnerable indigenous community.

As much as three-quarters of the eligible children in Aboriginal communities in the territory are not fully vaccinated, according to government data.

Michael Gunner said the rates are so low because children are being fed misinformation from social media and the internet and said lives are at risk as the virus spreads through the regional areas.  

‘If anybody thinks we are going to be intimidated by tinfoil-hat wearing tossers sitting in their parents’ basements in Florida then you do not know us Territorians,’ he told The Australian.

As much as three-quarters of the eligible children in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory are not fully vaccinated, according to government data

As much as three-quarters of the eligible children in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory are not fully vaccinated, according to government data 

Indigenous residents from remote Aboriginal communities are being taken from their towns to the Howard Springs quarantine centre (pictured, health officials in Katherine)

Indigenous residents from remote Aboriginal communities are being taken from their towns to the Howard Springs quarantine centre (pictured, health officials in Katherine)

In areas including Aputula, Willowra and Yuelamu only one child has received their first dose of the Covid vaccine and none have received both.

In Papunya just two out of 64 eligible children are fully vaccinated, while none of the 89 children in Yuedumu are double vaxxed.

However, 35 per cent of indigenous kids in the Top End are fully vaccinated.

Mr Gunner urged people not to listen to the lies spread by anti-vaxxers and encouraged everyone to protect themselves against the virus. 

‘I don’t want to go into their lies because that just gives them more oxygen, and their lies are dangerous,’ he said.

‘I urge people not to worry about the insane, unhinged stuff that’s spreading online and that’s overwhelmingly coming from people who don’t live here and know nothing about us … people who have nothing better to do but make up lies about us, because their own lives are so small and so sad.’

He said the misinformation was largely coming from the US, UK and Canada and said it was responsible for the ‘hesitancy’ emerging from these communities.

Mr Gunner urged people not to listen to the lies spread by anti-vaxxers and encouraged everyone to protect themselves against the virus

Mr Gunner urged people not to listen to the lies spread by anti-vaxxers and encouraged everyone to protect themselves against the virus

'If anybody thinks we are going to be intimidated by tinfoil-hat wearing tossers sitting in their parents' basements in Florida then you do not know us Territorians,' he said on Sunday

‘If anybody thinks we are going to be intimidated by tinfoil-hat wearing tossers sitting in their parents’ basements in Florida then you do not know us Territorians,’ he said on Sunday

Despite the very low rates in some communities, Mr Gunner said vaccination rates were climbing in the indigenous population as a whole they were ‘starting to win the fight, and we won’t stop fighting to save lives and protect the oldest culture on the planet.’ 

‘Our remote Indigenous vaccination rates are rapidly rising, and we will hit a major milestone of 80 per cent first dose any day,’ he said.

Modelling produced by the Doherty Instititue said the NT would need vaccination rates of 80 per cent within the indigenous community aged five years and above to protect the population.

That figure comes from the lower median age of Aboriginal people and their high vulnerability to the virus.

Currently anyone entering low vaccination communities in the NT have to wear a mask.  

Binjari and Rockhole communities in the Northern Territory are experiencing spikes in Covid cases due to overcrowded living situations and low vaccination rates (pictured, a roadblock outside Katherine on Tuesday)

Binjari and Rockhole communities in the Northern Territory are experiencing spikes in Covid cases due to overcrowded living situations and low vaccination rates (pictured, a roadblock outside Katherine on Tuesday)

Binjari and Rockhole communities are experiencing spikes in Covid cases due to overcrowded living situations and low vaccination rates.

There are now 51 cases in the area, in an outbreak that is the first of its kind in an Indigenous community, leading to the harshest lockdown ever seen in Australia – and currently the world – with the townspeople banned from even shopping for essentials or taking a walk. 

Authorities have also began moving positive cases and close contacts to the Howard Springs quarantine facility near Darwin to stop the spread of the virus within the at-risk communities. 

There have been 38 people transported from the at-risk Indigenous communities to Howard Springs so far.

The remaining residents who choose to stay in the remote towns are under the world’s harshest lockdowns, with people unable to leave their homes even for the normal five reasons – exercise, shopping, healthcare, work or education. 

Instead people can ‘only leave for medical treatment, or if required by law’, with Mr Gunner confirming the cases that have been moved to Howard Springs. 

‘It’s highly likely that more residents will be transferred to Howard Springs today, either as positive cases or close contacts,’ he said Wednesday.

‘We have already identified 38 close contacts from Binjari but that number will go up. Those 38 are being transferred now.’ 

The measures are set to remain in place for at least the next 14 days.

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