KANE Bentley is between a rock and a hard place having been double jabbed against COVID-19 while overseas but on returning to Australia found the vaccine – Sinopharm – is not recognised here.
The Mornington resident says advice from the Health Department, confirmed by his GP, is that he should not get another vaccine as not enough research has been done on mixing them.
He has also been told that the Chinese vaccine, which has been given the nod by the World Health Organisation, “could be approved here in weeks or months”.
The wait is proving costly for Mr Bentley despite being vaccinated for “longer than the majority of the population in this country”.
“I have been contacting various establishments to see whether I will be accepted into their premises and all have rejected me on the basis that I don’t have a COVID Passport because only approved vaccines can be displayed on the MyGov app,” he said.
“I find this incredibly frustrating and borderline discrimination. We are out of lockdown, I have done everything I can to abide by government rules, I have also got the vaccine certificate authorised by my GP. I have contacted multiple government departments over the past few weeks … Nothing has changed in terms of information for people like me being accepted into society.”
Mr Bentley, 23, who works for a business council with links to China, says he received his second dose of Sinopharm on 22 April at Delta Health, one of the biggest private hospitals in Shanghai.
“I rushed to get vaccinated because I thought I was doing the right thing but, instead, it’s been a hindrance,” he said.
On returning to Australia in early May he was ushered straight through customs and into hotel quarantine.
Now, with CBD workers returning to their offices, he is worried his lack of a COVID Passport will prevent him being accepted.
“The best information I have been given by the COVID Hotline was it could be approved in a matter of weeks to months and to not get another vaccine,” he said. “My GP agreed with this view, too.
“If I don’t voice my situation I will lose my job and not be able to interact with society even though I have done everything correctly.
“I have essentially been cast aside and left in limbo by the government. I really hope I can get some assistance or advice because nobody else has any information for me.”
Flinders MP and Health Minister Greg Hunt said four COVID-19 vaccines had been approved in Australia: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Janssen-Cilag, and Moderna.
Two overseas vaccines, not registered here, are recognised as offering adequate protection for the purposes of entering Australia: Coronavac (Sinovac) and Covishield (AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India).
Mr Hunt said the Therapeutic Goods Administration was “considering other vaccines for recognition, including Sinopharm, however, before this can occur the vaccine manufacturer, or a comparable regulator, is required to provide data to support an assessment”.
“We will continue to rely on the advice of our medical experts when it comes to recognition of international vaccines,” Mr Hunt said.
A Department of Health report referenced the TGA as recommending that Sinopharm not be a “recognised vaccine” at this stage because of the absence of information on severe infection and hospitalisation.
Mr Bentley, admittedly being cynical, said he thought the Sinopharm vaccine would receive government approval “just prior to Chinese students arriving for university first semester next year”.