Case Number: 3173

Council Meeting: FEBRUARY 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance

Ruling Categories: Accuracy

Stuff published an article on November 27, 2021 headlined Team of five million no more – what life will look like for the unvaccinated.

Emma Haselden complained the article was inaccurate in saying that “unvaccinated people put vaccinated people at risk of catching covid.” She said there was no comprehensive scientific evidence to conclude that having the vaccine lessens the risk of infection and transmission.

She also quoted from a Ministry of Health statement that when there is a high Covid-19 vaccine coverage (i.e., above 80 percent of eligible people are fully vaccinated) transmission is more likely to occur from a vaccinated than an unvaccinated individual.

She also took issue with a sentence which said, “recent reports from the Victorian Department of Health have also found that unvaccinated people are 10 times more likely to contract Covid than vaccinated people.”

However, the Ministry of Health advises that “As with any vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) may not fully protect everyone who gets it. However, it is highly effective if people have both doses. That means, if you do catch COVID-19, you’re far less likely to fall seriously ill and less likely to transmit the virus to others."

“While the data is clear that vaccines protect people from the effects of COVID-19, research is ongoing to determine whether a vaccinated person could still transmit the virus to someone else – so to be safe, we must assume there is still a risk of transmission.”

Therefore, the fundamental premise of the article is not shown to be incorrect.  It reflects the Ministry of Health advice.  The sentence reporting the Victorian Health Department is similar to advice given out by health authorities around the world on the efficacy of the vaccinations.

The Media Council can see that it stands to reason that when 90 percent of the eligible population are vaccinated there is a higher chance of having contact with, and possibly getting an infection from, a vaccinated person instead of an unvaccinated person.

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.


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