Covid-19 Update – NSW in lockdown

SUNDAY ARVO August : Queen street Berry NSW

Ominously quiet here in Berry . I am sitting with a lovely view of Queen street, enjoying the dappling spring sun. We are in lockdown, so cars punctuate the silence, birds sing and there is an echo of 2 cyclists, who seem to converse very loudly. As an aside, In the city ,they have noticed, since the pandemic and lockdowns, that birds have reduced the volume of their calls, because it is so much quieter. Turns out they might all have been chirping “REALLY LOUD” like they had headphones on, listening to AC/DC at the same time . Maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere…. ( KIDS : turn the volume down on your headphones!)

As of today, we have no case numbers for COVID in the Shoalhaven. Each day in Berry, I am meeting young patients, prepared to roll up their sleeve to have the AstraZeneca vaccine. (AZ) and when I ask them their “why?” They answer: It is because they see it as a responsibility. They are not especially fearing an infection, but they are not content to be bystanders, waiting for the other vaccines perhaps months away. They just “get” herd immunity, they are prepared to take the non preferred vaccine for the greater good, knowing they are at higher risk for the rare TTS ( Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome) That risk may be 1:30,000 for young women. So, when I am explaining the risks to these patients I make sure I personally thank them. Their small gesture is emblematic of a team effort. (“Be the ball.”.Antz reference.)

There is furious debate about where the Pfizer doses should go. Given most of the current COVID infections are in the 18-40 year old’s, and this is also the group most likely to pass it onto their children or parents, then maybe they should be getting vaccine first? We do know that Aged care workers, pregnant women and our disabled patients are top of the list.

The time for complaining about “which vaccine?” has passed, and now it’s about just getting covered. I dont think we need to sell these vaccines, everyday at 11;00 o’clock should be reason enough. At Berry Medical Centre (BMC) we can give you the AZ vaccination this week. We are running three clinics a week. But we just want people done, you can be vaccinated at the Hospital Hub and at the Berry Pharmacy, or lots of other practices. I can tell you that watching the nightly news, becomes allot more comfortable.

Now to the Pfizer vaccine, we are distributing 300 doses a week, running clinics on weekends. We treat every single dose as a “life”, which sounds a tad dramatic, but thats the way this has played out in other countries, that is what it has meant. Patients might be surprised if we cannot just squeeze in just another one person, or bend the rules for someone close to 40 or 61. It weighs very heavily on us that every dose is given within the week, to the recommended group. Every person needs to go through the NSW Health eligibility checker first. Every single dose in our fridge is allocated. We open spots for Pfizer when we are sure of supply. Please watch the HotDoc App.

Please note :

*Even one dose protects you from severe disease.

*Expect more reaction/ side effects to the first dose of AZ and to the second of the Pfizer doses.

*If we start getting cases, move your second AZ dose closer to 4 weeks from the first.

and we will make the move to vaccinating and seeing patients outside again.

*Children are largely spared severe disease, but unlike the first strains, Delta strain does transmit to from kids to other kids and adults. This is an emerging part of the puzzle. We wont get near immunity till this chink is addressed.

*More vaccines please.

In NSW, we are living in the second wave, its not an outbreak anymore. It is time when lockdowns, masks and social distancing will translate to lives saved. We should embrace vaccinations, the way you would say, if it were a passing log, and you were adrift in rising floodwaters “Please : Just grab on and grab someone else. ”

The Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands have the second highest immunisation rates in NSW.

So dear readers, please don’t delay.