Vaccination crucial for our protection

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
A nurse draws up doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Claremont Showgrounds.
Camera IconA nurse draws up doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Claremont Showgrounds. Credit: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images, Matt Jelonek

When Premier Mark McGowan made the announcement last week that people in my age group were eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, I was excited.

I’m all booked in for next month.

People in the 30-49 age bracket are recommended to get the Pfizer jab, but to be completely honest I would have the AstraZeneca if that was how the dice rolled.

I had been worried about the AstraZeneca vaccine at first, with the most recent death in Australia linked to the jab reported as recently as last week.

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There are people who will react to the vaccination, but it is still safer to get the vaccine — any vaccine — than to face COVID without it.

I have previously written about living in Papua New Guinea when I was 10 years old.

My time there has shaped the opinions of my sister and I on many issues, including vaccines.

We had to undergo a huge inoculation regime so health officials would allow us to travel to PNG.

Routine vaccines included polio, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, chickenpox and measles-mumps-rubella.

Others we had were for typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, measles, Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis A and B, and smallpox.

When we were getting our shots here in the safety of Australia my sister and I just copped the two bruised biceps every few weeks and didn’t think much of it.

When we arrived in PNG, we saw first-hand what going without vaccines really meant.

Time and again we saw grief-stricken families carrying small coffins off to the church, ready to bury a little one taken too soon.

So many of these deaths could have been prevented if enough of the population had had access to vaccines to create herd immunity.

Right now in Australia, we are being given access to vaccines developed by the world’s best scientists.

They were created in record time.

Fast. But not rushed.

Scientists could create the vaccines this fast because that is what happens when governments and business give enough funds towards urgent medical research to help the world get back on track.

Vaccines are not new.

But they are necessary.

We have been so lucky to have been spared the horror facing other countries as they bury hundreds of people every day.

I formed my strong belief in vaccination long ago because of the heartache I saw.

I hope other people can be a little quicker on the uptake than me and get their vaccine so Australia doesn’t have to see these same horrors.

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