‘Ridiculous’: Doctor’s vaccine rant
An Australian doctor has hit out at a rule that prevents medics from encouraging people to get the coronavirus vaccine, claiming their "hands are now tied".
Dr Preeya Alexander, a GP and mother of two behind the popular The Wholesome Doctor Instagram account and blog, lifted the lid on the "ridiculous" gag in a social media post.
She claimed the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has warned doctors not to share their opinion on the jab on social media, in case it encourages people to get the vaccine.
Under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, doctors are prevented from promoting the use or supply of therapeutic goods, and according to the TGA, doctors voicing their opinions on the vaccine online risk breaching Australia's ban on advertising prescription medications.
But Dr Alexander says that gag rule is ridiculous during a pandemic.
She also made a thinly veiled swipe at anti-vaxxer Pete Evans, pointing out the double standards that allowed those with no medical qualifications whatsoever to spout vaccine conspiracy theories while doctors were "silenced".
"A former celebrity chef can widely spread misinformation regarding the COVID-19 and other vaccines … as can a 'WAG' or former model. But a qualified health professional can't share their expert views on the COVID-19 vaccine?" she posted.
"We are held to different standards and it's a problem.
"Our hands are now tied and we are silenced, literally left powerless to fight the absolute nonsense and health misinformation."
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Dr Alexander insisted doctors discussing the vaccination was not an example of advertising or coercion.
"It's an attempt to give you information so that you can make an informed choice," she continued.
"It's giving you information so you can sift through the absolute hogwash."
Dr Alexander's post was met with overwhelming support, with followers outraged by the situation.
"When those with the actual knowledge and expertise are silenced … then the leftover info is the rubbish we all too often see," one Instagram user posted.
"This makes me furious. Any thoughts on how we as consumers can help create change?" another asked, while a third urged Dr Alexander to "keep fighting".
"You're doing an amazing job. So sick of these 'influencers' spreading misinformation. We need more professionals like yourself speaking out."
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr Karen Price told news.com.au the organisation had been in conversation with the TGA over the issue.
"We were in discussion with the TGA this morning, saying we need more clarification here, and they agree - for example, I retweeted something from the WHO with a comparison of different vaccines, so am I going to get into trouble?" she said.
"They told me no, that was providing information - the problem would be if I went on to say 'Come to my clinic' - it's about the inducement.
"But doctors can say they are going to offer COVID vaccines on this date, and clearly if you come into a clinic you can discuss it as you would normally."
Dr Price said she was confident the two groups would be able to work together to provide greater clarity for doctors.
News.com.au contacted the TGA via the Australian Government Department of Health for comment.
Originally published as 'Ridiculous': Doctor's vaccine rant