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October 22, 2021

Forty per cent of Byron Shire residents yet to get first COVID 19 dose but mayor refuses to join vaccine campaign

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Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon

Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon is refusing to join other health, political and community leaders in calls for people to receive a COVID 19 vaccine.

Whereas Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith and Country Labor Member for Richmond Justine Elliot have both called on their constituents to get vaccinated if they can, in line with advice from most health experts, the Byron mayor told Bay FM Community Radio this morning he felt vaccination was a personal choice and wasn’t prepared to campaign for or against it.

The interview was heard shortly before the daily NSW media conference, where the state’s chief medical officer said twelve people had died with COVID-19 in the reporting period to 8pm 26 Sunday.

None of the people who died had been double-dosed with COVID-19 vaccines; five had received one dose.

Around the world, as vaccines have become more available, the numbers of people dying with COVID-19 clearly support a common description: ‘the pandemic of the unvaccinated’.

Byron mayor prioritises ‘personal medical choices’ over pro-vaccine campaign

But despite a need for global cohesion on public health perhaps not seen since the AIDS epidemic, Byron’s mayor doesn’t think it’s his place to advocate for COVID-19 vaccines.

‘I don’t presume to tell people what to do with their personal medical choices,’ Cr Lyon told Bay FM* Above the Fray host Fernando de Freitas on Monday.

‘Now, that may not be a popular position but that’s the position that I have, it’s how I feel about it,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘I don’t tell my friends or my family to get vaccinated and so I’m not going to tell people I don’t know, or encourage them if you like, or however you want to frame it,’ he said.

‘I’m not going to shame them, or bully them or push them or tell them that, you know, they’re letting us all down, it’s just not how I engage’.

Cr Lyon said he was ‘here to represent everyone’ and to keep an ‘open dialogue with everyone’.

Council welcomes more local access to Pfizer, requests state vaccine hub

Late last week the Byron Shire Council issued a media release in response to the local government area being singled out as having one of the lowest vaccination rates in NSW.

First dose rates have steadily increased in the shire throughout September, passing 60% of eligible recipients last week, but have consistently been lower than neighbouring LGAs.

As of 22 September, less than 35% of eligible people in the Byron Shire were double-dosed.

Mayor Michael Lyon said the council had been concerned about lack of access in the Byron Shire to the Pfizer vaccine, which he said was only available from some local doctors.

‘We were really pleased to hear that Healthy North Coast has secured a lot more additional Pfizer doses to GPs in the Byron Shire, with its data showing people want the vaccine and that levels of vaccine hesitancy in Byron Shire are over-stated,’ Cr Lyon was quoted as saying.

Healthy North Coast is the agency contracted by the federal government to distribute COVID 19 vaccines, as distinct from the Northern NSW Health District, which is a state government body offering vaccines in hospitals and dedicated vaccine clinics.

There are state-run vaccine clinics in the Lismore, Tweed and Ballina LGAs.

But despite the state premier publicly singling out the Byron Shire recently for low vaccination rates and calls from both Ms Smith and the council for a mass vaccine hub in the LGA, no such plans have been announced.

‘Ensuring the shire has sufficient doses of the Pfizer vaccine is a simple way of turning the numbers around,’ Cr Lyon said last week.

‘While we are painted as anti-vax, it is clear there are still many residents wanting to get vaccinated who have not been able to access this easily,’ he said.

‘We have been very open with NSW Health, offering to set up one of our venues like the Cavanbah Centre for a walk-in vax hub.’

Regional travel allowed at 80% vaccination rate

The mayor said the council expected a surge in visitor numbers to Byron after the Sydney lockdown was lifted.

In Monday morning’s state media briefing, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced an updated ‘roadmap’ out of the pandemic induced lockdown.

Ms Berejiklian said many restrictions would be eased for double-dosed people once they represented 70% of the eligible population, a target expected to be reached by 11 October.

But she said people in Greater Sydney wouldn’t be allowed to travel freely to the state’s regions until an 80% figure was reached, probably by the end of October.

Mayor says Sydneysiders will ‘bring COVID with them’

The slight change in plans seemed to signal an acknowledgement of regional concerns, such as the cross-party letter sent from state political representatives on the Northern Rivers last week calling for a regional roadmap to give regional residents more time to get vaccinated.

But it fell short of setting separate targets for regional or any other vulnerable populations, such as those with disabilities and First Nations communities.

Last week the mayor said the council expected Sydneysiders would ‘bring COVID with them’ once they were allowed to come to the regions without permits and that the community hadn’t received the tools it needed to prepare itself in time.

‘We could also find ourselves in the situation where, because of high COVID cases we are put into a local lockdown and the impact on businesses, our border bubble with Queensland and even our Council projects could be disastrous,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘I expect this is a key concern for our neighbouring shires because as we all know, COVID does not respect borders,’ he said.

* Mia Armitage is a Bay FM member. To hear the full interview with the mayor on Above the Fray, check out the episode aired 27.09.21 via the station’s program guide.

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73 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps the NSW Government can make an announcement that people who are not double-vaccinated are not allowed to surf at The Pass ?

  2. Clearly support the pandemic of the Anthony Fauci’s et-al and the Wuhan institute.

    Poor form from the Echo. Empathetic form from the Mayor, how leader’s once led.

  3. Our Mayor should be setting a positive well documented scientific based recommendation for vaccination otherwise he is not fit to be a community leader.

  4. You won’t get my vote next time you weak political animal! Do what’s best for your region and not what you think keeps you in power!!!

  5. What a pathetic piece of fence sitting by Michael Lyons, obviously has an eye on the upcoming council election, afraid of losing the anti vax vote

  6. Look at page 27 in today’s Sydney Morning Herald to see what else Michael Lyon has done and equally important what has been done to him. This article is published interstate. Karl Quinn revealed to me that one of his employers is Channel Nine. If we want to control COVID in this region and resist being forced out of our homes by film companies we need to ensure that Byron Shire Council or rather Michael Lyon does not buckle further under pressure. Council has a tenuous hold over the 30 day filming restriction for Dream Island. Any breach by the Film Company constitutes illegal activity. What is expressed in the article appears to be utter contempt by the film company for Byron Shire Council, Michael Lyon personally and the community at large. Michael Lyon has been manipulated and much damage has been done as a consequence .

  7. Wow,, Our Mayor says.. ‘I’m not going to shame them, or bully them or push them or tell them that, you know, they’re letting us all down, it’s just not how I engage’.
    So his words of choice, to NOT say, are: shame them, bully them, push them, they’re letting us all down. So are these what he feels deep down? Maybe. But he certainly wouldn’t be alone. Does it matter? Probably not.
    What really matters, is that we are all facing..‘the pandemic of the unvaccinated’YIKES..

    • Of course people might secretly mean the exact opposite of what they say, but is that useful here, Tim? I think Michael Lyon is pretty good at critical thinking, and a lot of people aren’t – it’s disheartening how easily people can believe stuff that’s just not true. It’s to Lyon’s credit that he’s not joining the government in blaming the dumbest of Covid non-believers for our low vaccination rate, thereby distracting everyone from the government’s decision to not provide the right number of the right vaccines up here in the first place.

  8. This is a shameful display of cowardice. He acknowledges that Byron is at particular risk of a severe covid outbreak, and knows that the vaccination rate is dangerously low, but he refuses to advocate for vaccination.
    A mayor has a responsibility also to protect the local economy, as well as people’s health, and he’s failing to do his duty to the community.

  9. I would have thought promoting vax would have shown quality leadership in assisting our shire get back on its feet. Clearly the fence sitting is learned from another dear leader…Scomo!

    • Leadership is a quality that derives from a position of strength to say to your followers that not all occasions are going to be favourable to all.
      These are the times that leadership is where its good for the nation and all that surround the good of your nation. No doubt you have never been in a role of leadership where you have had to make a decision of life and death.
      This is now your moment where the decision of what you are embarking on will remain a decision to take to the grave as this is where you do put life and death to the fore.

      • Exactly a decision potentially of life and death, which is why getting vaccinated is a smart idea, as it reduces our risk of ending up in ICU or dead, especially with the Sydney wave about to sweep the Northern Rivers. It’s only a question of when Covid hits our Shire, not if anymore, thanks to Gladys.

    • This has nothing to do with rights. This is about public health. I’m sure you’ve had a polio vax as a child, ruebella vax as a teen, then the usual array of vax’s to get overseas, such as cholera, yellow fever and typhoid.
      We are not living in 1968, this is a world pandemic and we need to be smart.
      Simple message… get vaxxed!

      • Refreshing, enlightened comment. Yes, I vividly remember my Polio vax at Mullum Primary c1959. All those brutal metal & glass syringes laid out on the table and the ýukkie smell; HORRIFIC! .. but better than death. The Mayor’s leadership/Management on getting vaxxed, NIL. Males reach their intellectual summit age 62, female 59. On this matter the Mayor hasn’t reached the summit of a Tallow Beach sand hill.

    • If there’s any bullying and shaming of those choosing not to vaccinate, I haven’t seen it. Conversely I’ve read plenty of comments to people choosing vaccination suggesting they are lab rats, guinea pigs, complicit with a “great re-set”, endangering the community by shedding spike proteins everywhere, brain-washed, deluded, totally lacking intellect and poisoning themselves and their children. Not exactly respect for free choice!

  10. A communty roar goes up about Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon in refusing to join other health, political and community leaders in a howl for people to receive a COVID 19 vaccine. Is there no pride in the leader of Council?

  11. With statements like: ‘We were really pleased to hear that Healthy North Coast has secured a lot more additional Pfizer doses to GPs in the Byron Shire, with its data showing people want the vaccine and that levels of vaccine hesitancy in Byron Shire are over-stated’ – and others – are as close to being supportive of vaccination as you could get without coming right out and saying it.

    Mayor Lyon also makes references to the potential disaster for Byron Shire businesses if we are forced by high case numbers to have our own shut down and how worried neighbouring shires will be due to our proximity and leaky boundaries.

    Hardly a ringing endorsement of the anti-vax scamdemic/plandemic sentiment!

  12. So we’re suppose to trust politicians who decreed we’re not allowed out of lockdown until 80% of the population succumb to their dystopian mRNA manipulation experiment (google it) yet still wear masks and social distance because it’s only 61% effective in preventing or spreading a virus with a 99.7% recovery rate. (CDC Website)

    Not sure about you but many would find that rather difficult knowing forced, coerced or uninformed medical treatment of any kind is in violation of the Nuremberg Code and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (google it). Any politician placing themselves above these important documents can’t possibly be trusted. Ever.

    Knowing politicians lie yet believing what they say is no different to assuming even our basic civil liberties will be restored when this madness is finally over. Papers please.

  13. The less people are vaccinated, the more end up in hospital and ICU – that’s the sad reality we can see in Australia and every country around the world. In spite of the vaccination being new and us not knowing about long-term effects, we do know about the short- and medium-term risks of Covid rather too well.
    And I don’t think any health system has the capacity to look after 40% of unvaccinated people getting Covid, that’s what has caused the terrible dramas around the world, the horrid pictures of people lining up in front of Emergency Departments we don’t want to see here. –
    . Let’s say there’s 100.000 adults in our health area, currently 40.000 unvaccinated. If half of them get Covid in the coming 5 months of ‘Covid Freedom Days’ = 20.000.
    The current rate of ICU admission of unvaccinated adults with Covid in Australia is 5% = 1000. Standard ICU stay 2 weeks , meaning we would need 100 ICU beds needed per month, fully equipped not just with machinery but with nurses and doctors. If only we had them. Yet neither State nor Federal has increased positions or beds, have they?
    And the mayor, a leader in charge of the health and wellbeing of a whole town leaves it up to the people whether to get vaccinated or not??? Because it doesn’t bother him whether or not our rural health system will be overrun, our nurses, carers and health-workers completely burnt out risking their lives to protect our society and our lives, just like our Firefighters, only to get stabbed in the back by our elected politicians? Dear me.

  14. What a truly awful mealy-mouthed fence sitting position. This is the face of very very very poor leadership. The BAYFM interview made my gut churn. Inaction and flaccid efforts AND at the same time he waited for his Pfizer because he’s chicken of AZ? The assertion that this is a minor issue for council is beyond words. Absolutely ANY other candidate deserves your support. If your job as Mayor wasn’t to prepare and advocate for a pro-health response then what the hell are you doing? An absolute demonstration of failure at a local level.

  15. Extremely idiotic. Cr Lyon was always a self-centered fraud, never Green, truly a right-wing zealot, a mate of the worst type of politicians in Oz (George Christensen, Craig Kelly et al) How embarrassing to have this charlatan as mayor… vain ambition is his calling card…he’ll fail to get re-elected, again, the worse type of leader anyone could
    ask for. Please shut up Michael.

    • Luis on the ball as usual. Lyon’s statement should end his chance of election to Major. The anti-vaxxers who support this idiocy are usually not the sort of people who bother to vote anyway “They’re all fucked Man Don’t you know” is the nutter default position

    • Is this view an official Echo view , by an Echo Journalist that Byron Mayor Lyon is’always a self-centred (sic) fraud, never Green, truly a right-wing zealot.’

      Or , just a personal silly babble of words ?

      Not having friends like this will certainly ensure his re-election as Mayor.

  16. Disgraceful fence sitting. I thought we had a decent mayor, but this failure to support vaccination will probably cost dozens of lives of his constituents and millions of dollars of economic damage. This is not a “rights” or “choice” issue. The virus does not give a stuff about your politics. It’s just a few genes coded in RNA, driven by the principles of natural selection. Thank goodness our state and federal members are not as spineless as our mayor

  17. The Mayor has let us down very badly. He will rue the day he pandered to the anti-vaxxers, contrary to every responsible politician in the country. What a fail.

    • His just follow the REAL health experts. Good on him for not selling out to the government and supporting his people and there choices for life.

      • If you can infer from the Michael Lyons’ comments that he is following the Facebook, YouTube, Qanon scamdemic conspiracy advice you’ll read whatever you want to hear into anything.

        Therein lies a problem!

  18. Thank you Cr Lyon for respecting our right to make our own private health choice. Reminder to all the ones who are scared of the unvaccinated: the vaccine does not prevent transmission, it merely minimises the risk of severe complications for those vaccinated. Therefore no need to sweat it, other people choices won’t affect you.

    • I am so sick of hearing this absolute BS. It is the latest mantra. Of course the level of vaccination effects others as it impacts on how much virus is circulating in the community. Those with breakthrough infections (vaccinated but still get infected) have been measured to have high viral loads but – it has not been established how active or inert this viral load is and how it impacts on transmissibility. Those who are vaccinated and survive a mild infection are though to have their immunity considerably boosted.

      The obvious impact of vaccination is the protection against infection because if you don’t get infected you can’t infect others. This was thought to be around 50% but a very large UK study has suggested it is closer to 65%

      The different states are already looking at triage criteria for ICU in the anticipation of the ghastly decisions that have to be made by medical staff when availability of IC facilities falls well short of demand – the reality of “opening up”. It is unlikely that these criteria will include vaccinated/unvaccinated by choice so boosting the numbers of seriously ill from Covid will indeed impact on those who miss out! And there will be vulnerable vaccinated people who miss out!

      What do you think has bent the exponential trajectory of Sydney’s infection numbers?

      I have no desire to suggest it isn’t a matter of choice but I do object to endlessly repeated dangerous misinformation.

    • I support the exercise of personal choice with vaccination. I don’t support the repetition of misinformation until people convince themselves it is fact.

      Those with breakthrough infections after vaccination still have high viral loads but it is not known how this affects transmissibility. Survival of a mild infection after vaccination has implications for a boost in overall immunity.

      The obvious difference that vaccination makes is the prevention of infection because those not infected don’t pass on infection. This protection, against delta, was thought to be around 50% but a large UK study has suggested it is around 65%. This reduction in infected individuals in the community is particularly important for those with vulnerabilities for whom the vaccines will offer less protection. What do you think has bent Sydney’s exponential growth in infection?

      In preparation for following the national “opening up” plan, the states are already developing triage criteria to assist the medical staff left with the ghastly decisions about who gets access to IC and ventilators when demand outstrips supply. The criteria are unlikely to include vaccinated/unvaccinated by choice (though advanced care directives may be relevant).

      Younger, otherwise healthy people who have ended up with serious illness that could have been averted by vaccination will likely be deemed more likely to survive and impact on the availability of IC for the vaccinated vulnerable. You might think this is fine but I’m not into eugenics.

      Any excess demand for IC impacts on its availability for other serious illnesses, accidents, major surgeries etc.

      Exercise your choice by all means but don’t delude yourself that, in a society, your choice won’t have impacts. Take care with others’ health. That’s not bullying/shaming that’s just the available evidence.

      • Liz, your various comments sound like you actually know stuff. I mean stuff that you didn’t just learn from the University of YouTube. Thank you.

        • Thank you, Anita. I don’t pretend to have have any expertise but from this position I’m inclined To trust the science done by our major universities and research institutes. Not that they never get it wrong or that new findings emerge with a new and changing disease, but that they have the best qualifications to advise on the best available evidence.

          I’m sure it has little effect but I keep thinking it’s important to have some counterbalance to the copious stuff quoted on these pages from the “University of YouTube”.

  19. Listening to the interview was agony..never ending agony. Please get educated Michael. Covid 19/ Delta are real viruses with the ability to kill. Delta has the capacity to leech oxygen from the blood stream and the ‘at home sufferers ” feel ‘quite ‘ well and rapidly die lacking oxygen in their bloodstream. The virus defies all the time in its manifestations. The Health System is over-stretched hence this new situation of ‘home-care”. As for people from Sydney bringing the virus to Byron once shut down ceases is total hillbilly thinking. Michael, if you think this then please explain what protection the un-vaxed people have? The current debate shapes itself around ‘choice and human rights not to be vaxed”. Between rigid individualism and collective responsibility. As a public figure you have personal opinions….that is the real problem…keep them to yourself and get acquainted with the research. Last public report informed that there were two Ventilaters in ICU in both Tweed and Lismore Hospitals. Non at Byron Hospital.

    Norman Swan a brilliant Scientist/Doctor states that the Pandemic is politically driven. Do you understand this Michael? The lust for Power kills too.
    Flip flopping opinions are political stances. They are shameful and should never be tolerated by any country. Pandemics by their very nature are designed to kill. Resistance to same requires SOLIDARITY with the Collective who are also taking responsibiltiy that the virus does not spread to others. Vaxination aims to halt the virus. All Humans must take responsibility. Vaxination halts the intensity of the virus personally and socially.

    Indeed, First Nation people and the dis-abled have been discriminated by the lack of supply of vaxinations! Therein lies real concern requiring remedy.

    • We need to remember that the Vax is just one school of thought on how to approach such things. Viruses have been around long before this new RNA technology was created and we are all still here happy and healthy humans. A few birth defects and lifestyle illness and of course Vax related things …
      But for the most part we survived pretty well without RNA.

      • The people that are here now is not the same as “we are all still here”. We who are here are those whose ancestors survived the pandemics of their day.

        In fact many people alive today are only here because their ancestors avoided deadly diseases such as polio, diphtheria and pertussis through childhood vaccinations as well as smallpox and typhoid which were eradicated in Australia through vaccination before any of us were born. Sadly many of the young have no concept of the past pandemic devastation before vaccines were developed.

    • Unfortunately ignorance is not bliss now, I am pretty certain you will question your stance in time to come,this is the biggest assault on the world’s health,the Covid vaccination will turn out to be one of the biggest crimes ever,sadly!

  20. “I know everything because I heard it on the news and read it on Facebook. I’m really more important than everyone else so just listen to me and know one else because I’m right!” Everyone in these comments is sounding like Trump!
    Take a deep breath and calm the f**k down! We’re all neighbours!

  21. Thanks Michael Lyon,highly appreciate your srand,very rare for a politician of any color these days! This is most likely the biggest medical crime ever committed,the real impact of it will only show in the next years and it’s too late then to be sorry for your ignorance! We have a moral and ethical duty to ourselves to expose this crime,otherwise we are complicit in it! We owe it to our children and grandchildren and to humanity to stop this,the damage will be outrageous! I am not saying this t scare anyone, I say this because I care for our future,so please turn off the mass media,the news and inform yourself,it may not be pretty and entertaining what you will see, but ignorance is not bliss in this case! Thanks again for standing up,it’s pretty urgent!

    • Standing up???? Fence paling up his behind because an election coming up Lyons, also says we need more vacines up here so that more people can get vaccinated – his two faced approach is pure appalling electioneering to get votes from wherever he can while not being straight with the public. Politicians that will say whatever they think that will give them the best chance to get them elected are a curse.

    • I don’t know that our mayor will appreciate the inferences on here that he is condoning an anti-vax, anti-pharma, anti science message!

      What part of “I don’t presume to tell people what to do with their personal medical choices” is so hard to understand?

  22. Incredibly disappointing. I was a fan of his until now. I wonder if, like me, he had an immune compromised child, would his thought process be the same? He’s now directly responsible for keeping vax rates low and putting vulnerable people at risk.

  23. Very well spoken Mr Mayor and you have my vote indeed. i agree with the stance you are taking in not favouring either side of the issue and giving the liberty of choosing for ourselves. common sense at last… wow!! what a Leader. may you have a long and a prosperous political career.

  24. So the mayor thinks individual choice is more important than the greater public good. Someone should tell him that a COVID infection doesn’t end with the infected individual. An infected individual becomes a reservoir for the virus which subsequently gets passed onto other people. Has he thought what a significant number of unvaccinated individuals means for the Byron LGA? When people start moving there will be lots of COVID infections with the associated health consequences and impact on our health system. If or when that happens I hope people remember the major’s contribution. I’m shocked that someone in such an influential position would fail to support the public health advice.

  25. What a bunch of sooks on here. Everyone has pretty much made up their mind on whether they want to get vaxed or not and if they haven’t yet I doubt very much that anything Cr Lyons says one way or the other will have any bearing on their ultimate decision.

  26. Ew shame on you Echo as if every other media outlet isn’t already pushing the agenda. There’s a reason people move to this area and it’s not to be dictated to about medical choices and pushing a vaccine that is in its testing stage. Don’t use your ‘news’ as a way to create bigger divide. Gross

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