My Diabetes Inklings

The Privilege of Informed Consent

Here we are again, back in lockdown with mixed emotions. From others, there seems to be a pronounced sense of frustration and anger. People are getting increasingly cranky about mixed messages and lack of clarity around guidelines and being forced to close their business at the drop of a hat (understandably). Passing conversations with people around our community has taught me that majority are worried about getting the COVID vaccination. They have questions but are too afraid to ask them for fear of being shut down and labelled as an anti-vaxxer or feel forced and pressured by their doctors to get the vaccine.

I am well aware of how they are feeling as I’m in the same boat. Numerous conversations with my diabetes team and friends in the health industry have all led to my decision to wait as long as possible before getting the COVID vaccination. This doesn’t mean that I am an anti-vaxxer, which I have already been accused of. I am very well aware of the benefits of vaccination and am grateful for them. Especially as I rely on herd immunity for a few things like chicken pox as it turns out that I am one of the small percentage of people where its vaccine is effectively useless.

I’m grateful that my diabetes team have been willing to have an open discussion with me on the risk and benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID. They listened to my concerns and situation, provided me with what information they know and supported my decision. I only had one GP who insisted I get vaccinated simply because it was “the right thing to do” without considering my medical situation.

In research, we teach our students the importance of obtaining informed consent from participants before they take part in a study as part of ethical practice. I am lucky that we get to exercise that here in Australia, where you even need to sign a consent form to feed your baby formula in hospital because your breastmilk is taking its time to arrive. Before people are able to make an informed decision though, unbiased, evidenced based information and opportunities to ask questions should be provided.

At the moment access to safe spaces to have such discussions is limited to your healthcare teams. Information is only coming through social media, often through media companies where bias is rife. Social media is also a cesspool for peer pressure; with people blame and shame are inflicted upon those who dare speak out against the norm. It makes me feel guilty for having a medical reason to postpone getting vaccinated against COVID.

It’s not a surprise that I am feeling so exhausted and burnt out from social media. There’s little room to hide from such negative sentiments when it’s all everyone is talking about. I’m trying to focus on things I can control and minimising my time on social media or refocusing my content stream to things that are helpful or positive. But it’s tough and can be isolating. So if you’re in a similar situation, I hear you. You are not alone. And if you’ve got your COVID shot – awesome, now please be kind.

2 thoughts on “The Privilege of Informed Consent”

  1. I am a world away and i do not understand the decision, but I agree you have every right to do so. All I ask, is please stay masked, please keep a safe distance, and rejoin us soon. I have had the vaccine and because of the medication I use for Rheumatoid Arthrhits the vaccine did not work. I am masked, distanced and sad that i cannot see our grandchildren for another summer. None of that is because of anything anyone did or is doing.

    I never ask someone to get vaccinated. All i ask is that those not vaccinated take the same precautions I have to take. In my case its life and death. In other peoples case it is a choice. It is choice I so wish i had. Those of us with compromised immune systems cannot fight this if we get it, and as has been shown in the US we do not generally survive if we get it. Oh and for fun, if we do survive? Well that is usually in the hospital rehab centers and nursing homes of our communities.

    Questions, concerns, individual decisions, all great. Please just keep it individual.

    I know you will


    1. Thanks Rick. That’s so interesting to hear about the medication. How did they know the vaccine didn’t work may I ask?

      And absolutely we’re taking precautions! I’m not asking people to get vaccinated or not. I’m wanting people to realise that some of us have medical reasons to wait or not get the vaccine. Until then, of course we will do our part to stay safe. It’s just the aggressive messaging out there that shames and blames those who aren’t get the vaccine is harmful and doesn’t do anything to encourage others who can get it to do it.

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