Politics

Qantas Plans To Require COVID-19 Vaccine To Fly International, And Anti-Vaxxers Are Fuming

No, a private company updating its T&Cs isn't like Nazi Germany, please sit down.

Anti-vaxxers try to get #boycottqantas trending as Alan Joyce announces COVID-19 will be mandatory to get on international flights

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With Qantas CEO Alan Joyce telling A Current Affair the other night that the company plans to make a COVID-19 vaccine a necessary requisite to fly internationally on their planes, anti-vaxxers are pre-emptively trying to get #BoycottQantas trending.

On Monday night, Joyce told ACA that when a vaccine becomes widely available, he expects to institute a policy where international travellers on Qantas will need to provide proof of vaccine, possibly via a ‘digital passport’ option.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travellers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” he says.

The policy could be extended to domestic travel, depending on how we travel with COVID-19, and he says that it would be mandatory for both those coming into Australia and leaving the country via Qantas.

That news, evidently, upset a lot of anti-vaxxers — those who don’t realise that it’s incredibly unlikely Australia’s borders would open up to non-citizens who aren’t vaccinated, considering how tight our borders have been during the pandemic.

After airing the interview, ACA asked on Instagram and Facebook if people would take the vaccine to travel: as per Gizmodo, several anti-vaxxer Facebook pages told their followers to go vote, resulting in a deluge of negative comments and insistence that they actually love exploring Australia and don’t even need to go overseas anyway.

On Twitter, bizarre legalese conspiracist nonsense was trotted out, citing how Qantas not allowing non-vaccinated passengers on-board was ‘coercion which is illegal’ according to ‘international laws and treaties’, which is not true. Conspiracist Jim Corr claimed that Qantas’ policy would ‘violate the Nuremberg code’, a set of ethics for medical experiments instituted after the Nuremberg trials convicted Nazi doctors of war crimes for inhumane experiments on prisoners of war without their consent.

He claimed Qantas was “forcing” a medical procedure on passengers, which they are not doing: they would merely be updating their terms and conditions, as any private company can. Still, plenty of comparisons to Nazi war crimes and “medical tyranny” flood the #BoycottQantas hashtag on Twitter.

In response to the news, a small US travel agency called Tradewinds Travel has announced they won’t sell any Qantas flights to customers, saying they’ll extend the barring to any other airlines who require vaccination for passengers.

As SMH reporter Jenny Noyes points out, it’s simply absurd to imagine Australia will, in a world where a COVID-19 vaccine is readily available, let in any travellers who haven’t taken the vaccine.

Vaccine wise, there are currently three vaccines trials claiming success: in the US, both Moderna and Pfizer are claiming more than 90 percent success rate with their vaccines, though both require transportation frozen at below -70 Celcius, which could limit their use across the globe. Both still need to be peer-reviewed.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine also this week announced their preliminary results have a 70 percent success rate, though would be much easier to transport, as it can survive at four degrees Celcius. Australia has signed four vaccine deals, including ten million doses with Pfizer and 338 million doses with Oxford-AstraZeneca.

As The Guardian explains, the Pfizer news, unfortunately, isn’t immediately promising for Australia.¬† Beyond needing further peer review and the issue of transportation, the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses per person: our ten million dose would only vaccinate five million people.

More promising for us is the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. If it’s approved by Australia’s TGA, more than 3.8 million imported doses may be distributed in Australia to the elderly and health-care workers, with 30 million more then to be manufactured locally and then distributed. Health minister Greg Hunt confirmed on Monday that we are “very much on track for first vaccines in March”.