In late June the NSW Chief Medical Officer, Kerry Chant, looked down the barrel of the press conference camera and said that the community should get the vaccine by any means possible, so that’s what I did!
There’s no doubting that Australia has had troubled vaccine rollout, with mixed messaging between state and federal leaders, moving goal posts and inaccessibility to vaccines even if you wanted it.
Multiple ‘shortcut’ links were being shared on social media, and these were direct booking forms for vaccination clinics/hubs. It was confusing, as each form was branded differently and had the feel of a scam site. Surprisingly there wasn’t a centralised system. The form didn’t request any personal information or ID so I thought it was worth a go. I booked on 28 June for my first vaccination on 17 July and the second dose 3 weeks later on 7 August.
Morals? there’s no time for that
At the time I questioned the morals of ‘jumping the queue’ since the rollout phases prevented my age group being eligible for the vaccine. The public messaging was for under-60s to wait for the Pfizer vaccine due to medical concerns with the widely available AstraZeneca alternative. Then this was changed to under-50s, then under-40s where it remained for a few more weeks. Then under pressure due to increasing cases in Greater Sydney, suddenly it was recommended for anyone over 18.
By this time I had already received my first dose of Pfizer. The data was also showing that the vaccine uptake for all ages brackets over 50 was very slow. It was evident people weren’t coming forward to get vaccinated. I felt compelled that if I can get a vaccine then I should, as how is my opportunity being weighed less against someone else who doesn’t even value it. In essence, aren’t all lives equal?
I was confused, and so I can appreciate why other young people are still hesitant to get vaccinated. Truthfully, had AstraZeneca been made available months ago, I would have happily got it, the same as millions of other people have, including my family. Australia’s vaccination program has been an embarrassment, and will surely feature in many academic articles and books about how not to manage a pandemic. We’re very fortunate to be a sheltered island nation, but it’s pure luck and determination we’ve not faired worse.
It has been difficult to watch especially seeing the progress of friends and family overseas. My parents, brother and his wife were due to visit from the UK in December 2020. At this point, over 18 months later, I don’t know when we’ll see each other again. We’re all fortunate to be healthy and privileged to be comfortable both financially and physically. I feel for people who do not have the same fortune and have been mentally and financially strained by this situation
I encourage my friends and peers to get vaccinated. It is the only way we’re going to get back to some kind of normality. We must listen to the experts who have dedicated their time and careers to studying and producing medicines so we can enjoy our lives. Instead of reading conspiracies theories and trying to find reasons not to be vaccinated, just get it done and move on – we’ll all feel much happier at the other side of this.