On the 30th of March 2021, I had my first COVID vaccine. It was the Astra Zeneca. My next one is scheduled for the 23rd of June. I was actually incredibly excited. As someone who works in health, it felt like a turning point in the pandemic here in Australia.
Since then there have been several developments on the vaccine front. The linking of a rare blood clotting disorder to the Astra Zeneca vaccine resulted in the Australian Federal government recommending that the Astra Zeneca was to be given to over 50s, while the under 50s were to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Already far behind the initial projected schedule of doses – due to a variety of issues, including supply of vaccines to vaccination sites (mainly GPs), rollout methods, and differing areas of responsibility, the confusion generated by mixed messaging from the Federal Government has seen vaccine hesitancy rise rapidly in the population.
So, what I’m really wanting to say, is Just Get On With It, Australia.
We’ve got another outbreak in Melbourne, which may or may not prove to be problematic. So far there are fifteen cases, but they’ve been all over the place, and there’s a missing link in the contact tracing – the link between the source case and the first case of this cluster. The next few days will tell.
Of course, when you live in a country that has been relatively spared from the worst of the pandemic so far, it’s pretty easy to become complacent.
As of today, the whole country has had 30,045 cases confirmed, and 910 deaths. At this point we’ve been so incredibly privileged, compared to most of the rest of the world.
Every day, recently, I’ve heard people say ‘I’m not getting vaccinated yet, I’ll just wait and see.’ Even if they’re eligible.
To those of you who’ve said that, I’ll just say it again. Please. Just Get On With It.
To open our borders again, we need a big chunk of the population vaccinated. To protect each other, we need to vaccinate.
You see, in the end, it’s not about ‘me.’ It’s about ‘us.’ It’s about every one of us taking responsibility to contribute to the wider health response. And this is not just about our families, our towns, or our states, but the whole country and the wider world.
There are places where vaccination is a privilege of the wealthy. There are other places where governments charge for vaccines. Ours are free. They are supplied by the government, and our government has ordered enough to cover the entire population and then a bit more. (And no I’m not forgetting the supply issues.)
Yet, still I hear:
“I’ll just wait and see how everyone else goes.”
“I don’t want this one. I want the other one.”
“There’s no hurry, we haven’t had any cases here.”
“It’s mostly just the cities who need to worry.”
“I’ll just keep to myself and then I won’t come into contact with anyone.”
But there are a few issues with those attitudes.
If everyone waits, we’ll never get vaccinated.
You might want the other one, but why? Both are considered quite safe. The risk of death from COVID is probably around 1 in 100 – depending on age, health status, how many people are sick at the same time, and health system. The risk of serious side effects from Astra Zeneca (TTS) is about 1 in 100,000, and we’ve got better at identifying and treating those risks. About 2.47 in 10,000 people have an allergic reaction to the mRNA vaccines. People seem to forget this. We also have to remember that when we vaccinated millions of people at once, we’ll see rare side effects, that would otherwise only occur occasionally in a year.
It’s very nice to live somewhere that hasn’t had any COVID cases. This may last. But it may not. (Melbourne, remember? And many Australians have been travelling again.)
The most recent Melbourne cases have already been to Bendigo – country Victoria.
And we can’t keep to ourselves forever. In the end, no-one can.
So, again, Australians, please, the risk to you from COVID is much higher than your perceived risks from the vaccines. And if you’re feeling safe and complacent, remember that this can change in only a day or two. Quite literally. In fact, right now, Victoria and wider Australia may well be on that cusp.
Just Get On With It.