The choice between vaccinating now and vaccinating later could be a life or death decision.
Vaccination is one of the greatest public health achievements of the last century. Today it offers us a pathway out of lockdown, a long-awaited 'light at the end of the tunnel'. Yet despite Australia's wide availability of two safe, effective and free COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine hesitancy remains an obstacle.
After speaking to your GP you should take the first vaccine you can get. Recent Federal Health Department data showed that only 1% of those who've caught COVID-19 in the current outbreak were fully vaccinated. And of that 1%, none required hospitalisation and none died. The evidence that both vaccines work is incontrovertible.
Much has been made of a very rare blood clotting syndrome linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. This needs to be put into perspective. All medicines carry some risk. Even something as common and seemingly innocuous as aspirin can, in rare cases, have significant adverse side effects. Statistically, aspirin is 200 times more likely to result in death than the AstraZeneca vaccine. This doesn't mean that medicines should never be used; rather, it's always a question of balancing the risks with the potential benefits to a person's health.
These risk-benefit analyses have been comprehensively undertaken in relation to the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. The risks they pose are infinitesimally small. The benefits, on the other hand, are great - protecting ourselves and our population from potentially serious disease and death.
So my message is simple: please get vaccinated now. With our city in the grip of an outbreak, holding out for your particular vaccine of choice may be putting you, your loved ones and your community in a vulnerable position. AstraZeneca is in plentiful supply and available to all adults. And if at least four weeks have elapsed since your first AstraZeneca dose, consider bringing your second dose forward, as I did today at St George Hospital.
Vaccination is our best hope at beating the virus and returning to a more normal way of life. Make August the month to get the jab.
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