GPs say it's “frustrating” to see an “increase of vaccine hesitancy” caused by misinformation, and are reassuring people the Covid-19 vaccine is safe.
Dr Bryan Betty, medical director at The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, said GPs were now facing “dozens” of questions from people about the vaccine that stem from misinformation.
“Everything from, ‘Does it cause disease?’ ‘Does it alter my DNA?’ and ‘Does it interact with medication I’m already taking?’ The short answer is that the vaccine is well-tested, safe and effective,” Betty said.
“As a profession, we have been closely watching international vaccine rollouts and the data being produced.
“The Pfizer vaccine, which is used in New Zealand, has been administered to millions around the world with no more serious side-effects than the flu vaccine, and it has been tracked and monitored more than any other vaccine in history.”
Betty said it was especially concerning that some of the misinformation about the jab was being passed onto patients by “others in the medical profession”.
Last month, an investigation was launched after dozens of health professionals — including several GPs — appeared to have signed an open letter that shared some seemingly misleading claims about Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine. The letter's contents have been described by experts in the field as misinformation, or incomplete and taken out of context at best.
"The misinformation being spread by individuals and groups who often hide behind the internet is one thing. The problem becomes harder to address when it comes from those who have medical or science backgrounds,” Betty said.
He said medical professionals should be “unified” in their position on vaccines.
Dr Samantha Murton, the college’s president, said because GPs were the first point of contact for many people in the community, they had a responsibility to give evidence-based advice so people could make an informed choice.