Covid Update December 2021

Just when it felt safe to go in the water…. along comes Omicron variant. Now I subscribe to the glass half full and it’s very possible this could represent a milder version of the virus. ( yea !) You have to ask, It is more transmissible?-  but by how much? Will it be sensitive to the vaccines? Will it uncouple infection rates from serious illness?

We  don’t have answers yet: true science is a painstakingly slow tugboat, pushing against the flow of data and compassion with the aim maintaining true North, and guiding HMAS Humanity to the other side. (No no, not that “other side” , think a “safe harbour” )

As it stands there is a real threat this virus could take off and they are predicting 100,000 cases a day in the UK, Much of Europe is considering vaccine mandate. Our vaccines are astoundingly successful but not perfect, (like peanut butter on soft  white bread perfect), So, in combination with masks , social distancing and ventilation, we should be safe.

We are asking all our patients to wear a mask, and if we can all continue to use the QR code check in on arrival.

In Australia we have rates quoted at > 90% double vaccinated . That is more than 18 million doses given, but take pause…,   because there is still then 1 in 4 Australians who are not vaccinated.  So, this variant may only bother a small percentage of people, but a small percentage of a very large number is still a large number. (that is we could see many cases)

So here is my plea.

Finish your course of vaccines, get the 3rd  dose, with just 2 doses you are sinking fast as you near 6 months, so you can now get your booster 5 months after the 2nd dose. The Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna can be offered, depending on what is available.

The next adjustment to the tugboat rudder is childhood immunisation. For those aged 5-11 the Pfizer vaccine is approved.  2 doses 8 weeks apart .

We will be offering our weekday and Saturday clinics, later in January 2022.

We are dealing with some strong emotional currents here, that innate need to protect your children and I do believe you can trust that  the vaccine is safe in children. There have been 5 million doses given to kids in the US.

If you are unsure about the vaccine, please consider using this online tool as valid source of evidence based information.

Novavax seems a while away and not as effective. With mRNA vaccines there is a tiny risk of heart inflammation (myocarditis and pericarditis) mostly in young men . It generally goes by itself. No one is Australia’s has died from it and it is not a big problem for younger children.

Can I address the issue of looking after COVID positive patients in the community? Because so many people are vaccinated, we will see positive patients being sent home, ….“not a hospital problem.”

Unfortunately, this General Practice cannot take on sick COVID positive patients, and  we have to say there are better resourced services in the community. We don’t know what to expect, so this is a difficult decision. There is hospital in the home and GP respiratory clinics, standing ready.

You may have heard of the Rural Doctor shortages. Getting doctors to Berry is no different to elsewhere in the Shoalhaven. We are under resourced per capita every bit as much as very remote areas.  Some practices in the Shoalhaven are just closing , they are walking away from the vaccinating program.  So bear with us, while we try to find more doctors for the area. Berry Medical Centre is working to full capacity, with the new burden of vaccination clinics and quadruple the number of phone calls.. On the positive, we can, at least now, get back to vaccinating just Berry and it’s surrounds.

So then, if you are on the cruiser and tugboat is doing its job, we should all have safe indoor air, all be vaccinated and  we can raise a  glass to the sea breeze and celebrate Summer safely .


Neil Donovan on behalf of Berry Medical Centre


You don’t want to know about cost shifting between state and federal governments, but as always, all governments know that GP’s are their cheapest most compliant solution. (on average when we provide equivalent services to the hospital, we do so at a third of the price) ? Why: because we independent professionals, not motivated by money and trying to stretch all resources as far as possible, that makes us lean, nimble and motivated.

We can’t even get the right fitted masks, Rural GP pride themselves on taking on a broad range of responsibilities but model in a small General Practice is unsafe and unsustainable  to doctors and patients