OPINION

A COVID vaccine update from Gloucester and Stroud Medico

Dr Michele Hogg received the first COVID-19 vaccination in Gloucester by registered nurse Sue Wallace.
Dr Michele Hogg received the first COVID-19 vaccination in Gloucester by registered nurse Sue Wallace.

COVID-19 vaccinations are in full swing at Gloucester and Stroud MediCo. It has been an organisational nightmare and steep learning curve for us, with several hurdles along the way.

We acknowledge and apologise for some of the teething difficulties in the initial stages. Everyone over 50, who expressed interest, should now either have had their first vaccine or have a date booked. If not, please contact offices to arrange an appointment.

The safety concerns around the Astra Zeneca vaccine have also been an unwanted distraction from the task of vaccinating all our residents prior to the unleashing of COVID in the future.

My take home messages for people considering the vaccine:

1. COVID is coming to Australia. The question is "when?" The government is hoping to hold COVID out for the next 12 months while we continue towards complete vaccination of our communities, but with winter, and the arrival of the delta variant places serious question marks about whether we can be successful.

2. There is a very remote chance one may die from having the Astra Zeneca vaccine - one in a million. It is scary. But you are much more likely to die in a car accident - 43 in a million chance per year. You are very much more likely to die from COVID - one to three per 100 (higher the older you are).

3. Vaccines that aren't 100 percent effective (most of them) need as many people vaccinated as possible for them to work in stopping the spread. (Flu vaccine is about 40 to 60 per cent effective, Whooping cough vaccine about 75 per cent). Getting vaccinated is a gift we give our community and our loved ones above and beyond protecting ourselves.

4. The government has said it will offer the Pfizer vaccine to anyone who chooses it. When it becomes available locally, I hope that it will be given first to all the under 50-year-olds, who have no other option for vaccination. Those who are eligible for the Astra Zeneca, but choose to wait for the Pfizer, will probably be waiting until the end of the queue, and run the risk of COVID arriving before they can be vaccinated.

Our doctors are constantly updated by state and federal health departments on the issues around COVID and COVID vaccinations. If you are still uncertain about whether to be vaccinated, please make an appointment to discuss your questions and concerns. You will not be given a vaccine at this appointment. You will be given accurate and up to date information with which to decide whether to book a vaccination.

Gloucester MediCo has vaccinated more than 900 people to date and Stroud 300 with second vaccines due to begin shortly.