Last night at 8.30 pm, SBS One featured the documentary “Jabbed – Love Fear and Vaccines.” The writer, director and producer of the documentary, Sonya Pemberton wrote for The Hoopla on her hopes for her endeavour…
When I set out to make a documentary about vaccination nearly 3 years ago, I knew I was in for a bumpy ride. But this is a conversation – please note, not a ‘debate’ – I feel we need to have.
More and more people seem to be expressing concerns about vaccines, worried about this additive, questioning that part of the schedule, arguing this report, yelling at that newspaper story. There is SO MUCH INFORMATION out there.
And in every family, in every group of friends, there seems to be someone who doesn’t have the same views as the rest – and great painful divides sometimes appear.
Surely I’m not alone in finding it all exhausting?
I think that when you come to a conversation knowing you have a different position to the other person it can be deeply uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s tempting to (metaphorically) sit in the corner, eyes shut, fingers in ears, singing loudly… or, to just stay quiet and not engage.
But surely this is too important an issue to ignore?
I am a supporter of vaccines. I think vaccines are vitally important and, for the most part, extremely safe.
My job as a scientific filmmaker is to follow the science, to learn from some of the most credible, experienced and highly informed experts in the world. I recognise that science continually adapts and changes as new information comes to light (this is a great strength!) and so, for me, it offers the best most logical path to follow.
It’s also my job as a documentary filmmaker to talk to people and to listen, best I can.
The more the conversations I have, the more I start to see that, when it comes to making decisions around risk, it’s an emotional, complex business. The key for me was to recognise that we all share common ground; we are all trying to protect the ones we love, best we can.
My understanding grew as I looked through a different window, the window of those who are concerned, or questioning vaccines. I discovered a new ability to listen, to judge people less quickly and to explain the science more respectfully. I also discovered that it is understandable to have concerns around vaccines, and listening to those concerns is important.
I remain passionately in favour of vaccines.
I understand that they are not perfect, ‘like anything made by humans’ as Dr Karl likes to say. I understand that sometimes things can go wrong and these rare events have much to teach us, we must pay attention. I also feel strongly that we have to keep asking questions of the doctors, the scientists, our government, and of course the vaccine makers and regulators. Importantly, we must also be open to listening to the answers.
Now after several years of hard work, my team and I have created something with layers and nuances that I hope can add to a new conversation. Much of its ‘big picture’ approach came from talking openly, eyes open and without our fingers in our ears.
None of us are quite the same as when we started.
It has turned out to be an intriguing ride, this documentary and, I hope, a conversation starter.
“A triumph! JABBED is a thoughtful, beautiful and powerful documentary on one of the most important punlic health issues of our time”. Sir Gustav Nossal (Key adviser to the WHO on immunisation. Australian of the Year 2000)
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*Sonya Pemberton is the Emmy award-winning writer, director, producer JABBED – love, fear and vaccines. You can read more here.