It is more important than ever that COVID-19 vaccines are deployed across the broader community with Melbourne presently experiencing the leakage of the UK strain of COVID-19 from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel.
We are told this strain is quicker and easier to transmit and more deadly. And with what is now labeled ‘Long-Haul COVID’, no-one wants to get this virus as the effects may be permanent and severe.
It is unimaginable having to live indefinitely under the constant fear of this virus and you definitely don’t want to catch it.
Our TTHA ‘family’ clearly doesn’t want to continue living with the fear of this virus, or indeed influenza.
Our residents, whether they live in TTHA, are independent or supported by TTHA at home, are amongst the most vulnerable in the community.
Australia is about to commence a massive vaccination campaign against this COVID-19 virus.
The timing of this vaccination program has been critical for Australians to gain confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and we now have the benefit of tens of millions of doses already having been administered around the world without unexpected outcomes.
It is up to all of us to make our individual decisions whether to vaccinate or not. I know that some people have legitimate medical reasons why they should not have any of these vaccinations and that is fair enough.
Dr. Irene Kemper is a TTHA Board Member and co-author of this notice and has convened a specialist Infection Control Sub-committee of the TTHA Board meeting fortnightly since the beginning of this pandemic.
It is important that discussions around vaccinations and this COVID-19 vaccination, in particular, are factual rather than emotional or opinion/personal preference based.
Irene has explained to us that, unlike the way vaccines were made years ago, there is no live COVID-19 virus in the vaccine and no egg product is used.
The vaccines trigger an immune response that encourages our own immune systems to identify the COVID-19 spike protein and produce antibodies.
At this stage, it is not yet known whether the vaccines inhibit transmission of the virus as their deployment is so recent, but it will protect us from severe disease and potentially death from this virus.
There are however those who simply object to being vaccinated. In Australia, where the vast majority do get vaccinated, the small minority of anti-vaccination people benefit from the level of community cover vaccines provide.
However, if enough people fail to be vaccinated, the general benefit of community protection will be heavily compromised and both Influenza and COVID-19 (and its variants) will continue to circulate and infect our community.
The broader the reach of these vaccines, the better the protection for all of us.
During the peak of the first and second waves of COVID 19 in Australia, the Federal Government mandated the influenza vaccine for all Aged Care workers and visitors.
This mandate recently expired and the Federal Government does not intend to mandate either the COVID-19 or influenza vaccines in the future.
TTHA will follow the public health recommendations and so not mandate vaccinations. This is also the general approach of the aged care industry.
This has been a difficult decision to make as the mandated Influenza vaccine has seen virtually no influenza in aged care and the community during 2020.
We never-the-less expect a very high level of vaccination amongst our staff, residents, and visitors in the future as it has been in the past and we sincerely hope and ask that you all, where possible, get vaccinated.
People visiting TTHA will be asked during registration on their current vaccination status, but it will not be a condition of entry.
The COVID-19 vaccine will commence roll-out across Australia on the 22nd of February and aged care residents and workers will be amongst the first to receive the opportunity to vaccinate.
All of us will have the opportunity to vaccinate over the coming months and we sincerely hope that all of our community capable of being vaccinated do so as soon as it is available.
Paul English Dr. Irene Kemper
Chairman, TTHA Board TTHA Board Member and Convenor
Infection Control Sub-committee