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The Australian government's health advice service removes Covid vaccine misinformation as a 'direct result' of my feedback
When asking to speak to the manager pays off
Sometimes it feels like nothing can put out the raging fire of misinformation coming from government sources.
There’s so much of it, it’s hard to know where to direct one’s efforts.
But from time to time, focused, persistent nagging can prove effective.
Health Direct, the Australian national health advice service, has removed Covid vaccine misinformation from its website following a complaint escalated by yours truly.
The section I complained about, titled, ‘Do COVID-19 vaccines stop transmission of the virus?’, referenced multiple studies claiming effectiveness in stopping transmission. All the studies were over 12 months old, and all studied only the double dose regimen on variants that are no longer in circulation. We are now onto dose five in Australia.
Initially, Healthdirect deflected responsibility, as they simply post the information they receive from the Department of Health. So I escalated the complaint to the manager.
”Whomever is managing the content of your site has used information that is well and truly out of date (by at least 12 months), and does not appear to have sought an update from DoH or have added a disclaimer to inform the public that the health advice offered on your website is obsolete.
As Healthdirect is the owner and manager of this webpage, it appears that responsibility for the information presented on this page falls to Healthdirect. “
Finally, on 16 March 2023, a spokesperson advised,
“We are currently in the process of extensive revision of all our COVID-19 content and as a direct result of your feedback, have since reviewed and updated the web page you’ve identified.”
For the time being, the section on transmission has simply been removed. But as I regularly encounter Australians who still believe that Covid vaccines meaningfully limit transmission of the virus, it’s important that official health advice sources do not reinforce this misapprehension with false information.
View the archived version of the page HERE.
View the new version of the page HERE.
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