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Vaccination is the only way life can go back to normal without lockdowns and the freedom to travel, says the Clinical Lead of Austin Health's COVID-19 Vaccination Program, Dr Janine Trevillyan.
“Clearly everyone can see that COVID has not gone away and is going to be a problem for us here in Australia,” she says.
“The vaccines have been extensively tested, monitored and have now been given to millions of people world-wide.
“The protective benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any risks so really the question is, why wouldn’t you get vaccinated?”
The current advice in Australia regarding the COVID-19 vaccines is individuals older than 60 are eligible for AstraZeneca and those younger than 60 who are eligible for vaccination can receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Health care workers, residential aged care and disability care workers, pregnant women and people working in hotel quarantine are eligible for Pfizer regardless of their age.
Janine says while the COVID vaccinations in general are very safe, as with any medication or vaccine there are some individuals who will unfortunately develop a side effect.
While most are mild and go away within a day or so, a rare and important side effect which can lead to blood clots has been detected with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“All of the instances of this clotting side effect occur with the first dose and not the second dose of AstraZeneca and is more likely to occur in younger people,” Janine says.
“This does not occur with the Pfizer vaccine and this is why the current advice is that people younger than 60 should receive Pfizer.”
For anyone hesitant to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca, Janine says the protection it gives far outweighs the risk.
“In people who are more than 60 the balance between the risk of catching COVID and becoming very unwell, or needing to be admitted to Intensive Care - which can be prevented by AstraZeneca - against the very rare possibility of developing a side effect to the vaccine, definitely favours having the vaccine,” she says.
Austin Health administered its 100,000th vaccine this week and the teams across the north-east have administered more than 330,000 vaccines since February.