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The Australian agency advised that people with anxiety disorders and needle phobias could get the vaccine under sedation under special circumstances, and only if they give informed consent beforehand.
The purpose of the recommendation is to help people who have issues getting shots while awake. It’s not a tool to force vaccinations.
That’s one way to do it.
Social media users are claiming that Australia’s immunization agency recently found a way to force COVID-19 vaccine compliance: just give it to patients who are already sedated.
"‘(Vaccines) may also be administered opportunistically while patients are undergoing sedation for unrelated procedures.’ — ATAGI advice on use of sedation for COVID-19 vaccination," an Instagram post said. (ATAGI stands for the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.)
The post goes on to claim in its caption that patient consent is not required.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
This is inaccurate. While the health agency did advise COVID-19 vaccination for people under sedation, it isn’t being used as a measure to enforce compliance with vaccination requirements — patient consent is required.
PolitiFact reached out to the agency but did not hear back.
On April 6, the ATAGI released a report supporting the use of sedation for COVID-19 vaccination for people who have behavior disorders, severe anxiety and needle phobias.
"The process of administering a vaccine (i.e. giving an intramuscular injection) may cause severe anxiety in some individuals with anxiety disorders or needle-phobia, and/or may be difficult in certain individuals with behavioural disorders," the agency said.
The group said that the effort cannot be used as a way to force people to get the vaccine and that consent is required beforehand. Here’s what it wrote, with emphasis added by PolitiFact:
"In patients where non-pharmacological techniques have failed, sedation may facilitate safe administration of vaccines in some special circumstances. Informed consent must be obtained prior to each dose from the patient themselves, or, where the patient does not have capacity to give consent, from the parent, guardian or substitute decision-maker. Sedation should not be used as a measure to enforce compliance with vaccination requirements."
A post on Instagram claims that Australia’s immunization advisory group recommends that people be given the COVID-19 vaccine without their consent when they are under sedation.
This is wrong. The agency advised that people with anxiety disorders and needle phobias could get the vaccine under sedation under special circumstances, and only if they give informed consent beforehand.
We rate this claim False.
Instagram post, April 18, 2022
Australian Government Department of Health, ATAGI advice on use of sedation for COVID-19 vaccination, April 6, 2022
Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre, ATAGI advice on use of sedation for COVID-19 vaccination, April 14, 2022
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