Latrobe Health staff member Cherry Prior took herself off to a community vaccination centre this week to receive her first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Are you eligible for the Coronavirus vaccine too? Find out.
I’m standing in line outside a racecourse that is my local community vaccination centre with maybe 50 others. We’re politely waiting to get a tiny dose of a vaccine that will begin the process of improved immunity against Coronavirus, or the ’Rona’ as it’s colloquially known.
We’ve been here about an hour. No one’s worried about the wait though. The lines remind us of queuing for concert tickets, just not as exciting.
There’s quiet chat and a bit of banter and a few comments about how personable the security guard is. And a general sense that this is something well worth our time as we creep slowly toward the vaccination finish line.
When it’s my turn, I’m ushered into a temporary clinic much like a changing room at a market. My nurse runs me through the possible side effects and does a quick health check before I receive my AstraZeneca injection. It’s quick and it’s painless and 15 minutes of observation later I’m out of there.
Why I chose to be vaccinated
Getting vaccinated is a personal choice – no-one’s forcing me to do it. And there are some widely reported risks to having the vaccine.
But why wouldn’t I?
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has provisionally approved both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines for use in Australia as both have been shown to be effective at preventing disease, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.
Higher vaccination rates make outbreaks – and therefore lockdowns - much less likely and protect the ‘goldies’ in my life, the precious older folk such as my parents who are among the most vulnerable, by limiting the spread of the disease.
And sure, there’s a personal risk to my health by being vaccinated, as there is with any medication, but there’s a bigger risk from 'Rona.
World Health Organization figures at the start of June show there have been more than 170 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3.5 million deaths. That’s a death rate of two in every 100 people that catch the virus.
There’s been a lot of publicity about blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, particularly for the under 50s – and it’s true, it’s a possible side effect. The incidence rate is six people per million (or .0006 people per 100).
You do the math.
What’s involved in being vaccinated?
The COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine is a two-dose course administered 12-weeks apart.
The COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine is also a two-dose course, administered three weeks apart.
It is recommended that you give yourself a 14-day buffer period between the flu vax and the COVID-19 vax – this is purely precautionary – there is no known interaction between the two.
You can find out more information on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
Who is eligible to be vaccinated?
COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia, even if you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident. This includes people without a Medicare card, overseas visitors, international students, migrant workers and asylum seekers.
Regardless of which state or territory in Australia you live in, to find out when and where you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, book an appointment if you are eligible, or register your interest, please visit the Australian Government's Vaccine Eligibility Checker Tool.
More locations are being added regularly to this centralised website, so check back to find a clinic near you.
What’s your choice?
The decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine is an individual choice and should be discussed with your doctor. They are also the best ones to speak to if you have questions or concerns. Further information is available on the Victorian Government and federal Health Department websites.
For the latest health information, visit health.gov.au or call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. This operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.