Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, has issued a new plea to all who have not received either their COVID-19 booster or flu shot to get shocked, saying the “double violation” of both diseases puts a strain on health systems.
- About two-thirds of eligible Australians have received their COVID-19 booster shots
- Professor Paul Kelly warns that re-infections of the disease will increase in the coming weeks and months
- He says people need to make sure they are protected from both COVID-19 and the flu
Professor Kelly told Sky News that although the intake of a third dose of COVID-19 had been high in older age groups and among people who were more vulnerable to serious illness, there were still around a third of people across Australia, who had not had their booster.
“We actually get good absorption in them [older] age groups, but as a population-based estimate, about 67 percent of eligible people have received their third dose. We will definitely be better than that, he says.
“We now know that when Omicron is circulating, a third dose is really important, and that’s why today I would really urge anyone entitled to a third dose not to hesitate and go and get a third dose.”
Last month, Australia led the world in terms of COVID-19 per capita infections, with Professor Kelly telling Channel Nine that the number of infections of both the virus and the flu was a clear sign that “winter is definitely with us” .
Professor Kelly put the lower uptake of the booster than the first and second doses down to a mix of causes.
“People are less worried about COVID than they were, for example, this time last year, and that’s partly because of their own lived experience,” he said.
“As we know, most people who have COVID will only have a mild or moderate illness, but there are people [who] may be more prone to serious illness and it is they who should definitely get the maximum protection.
“I think the other thing is [that] many people this year have had COVID, so there is the gap that is inserted about when you have had COVID and when you can get your next dose [of vaccine]. “
People who have recently had COVID-19 are advised to wait at least three months before receiving their next vaccination against the virus.
Warning about reinfections
Professor Kelly said that although it was already clear that the Omicron variant was capable of re-infecting humans who had had other previous variants, a new sub-variant, which is currently spreading on the east coast of Australia, proved even more transmissible. . .
“What we do not see is a large increase in serious illness, and that is really because of the vaccine protection, which can be boosted with the third and fourth dose.”
The government has also spent the week raising awareness about the availability of antiviral drugs for people over the age of 65 or people with compromised immune systems who receive COVID-19.
However, it is not only COVID-19 people who need to protect themselves, he said, because cases of influenza are also on the rise.
Health authorities and experts warned that the winter season would be the first in which Australians would have to deal with both COVID-19 circulating and a return of a more widespread flu after milder seasons in the first few years of the pandemic.
Professor Kelly said the combination of the two diseases put a toll on the health care system.
“It’s definitely a strain at the moment from the flu and COVID, a double breath if you will, but also the absence of staff who are also affected,” he said.
“So that’s the challenge at the moment. As we often see in the winter with the flu, but having the flu and COVID around does.”
Professor Kelly said people should also make sure they get the flu vaccine, especially those in geriatric care, children under five and pregnant women.
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