A local GP is urging all eligible Mid North residents – including 12 to 15-year-olds from next week – to play their part and get their COVID vaccinations done as soon as possible.
With a number of coronavirus ‘hot spots’ popping up across South Australia over the past week – including at Port Wakefield and Port Augusta, where interstate COVID positive workers had stopped – SA Rural Doctors Association’s Dr Gerry Considine, Clare, said local residents had an important role to play.
“I’m urging local people to help get the vaccination percentages up for our region, because if we are safer as a region, we all help each other,” he said.
“The doctors and nurses here are passionate about our local area and want it to be as safe as possible.
“If we can get the vaccination percentages right up in the Mid North, that will serve the rest of the vulnerable population well.
“SA as a state is well behind the other states in percentages of vaccinations.
“Right now we have an opportunity, while things are relatively stable, to get in and get those vaccination percentages up, and if we can achieve that 70-80 per cent vaccination rate it could mean we can start winding back some of the restrictions on things like travel and masks.”
From Monday, September 13, Pfizer vaccinations will also be available for 12 to 15-year-olds.
Dr Considine said at Clare Medical Centre where he works, it had also recently opened up vaccinations for 16+ year-olds (previously unable to because it is a Federally-funded site).
With three extra nurses employed at the centre in the last month and vaccination stocks increased, he said they were well-prepared.
As a father, Dr Considine said if his children were in the eligible age range, he would not hesitate to have them vaccinated.
“I’ve got kids under the age of five, but if they were teenagers, I’ve be getting them vaccinated,” he said.
“The advice from ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) is that the risks of COVID in that age group outweigh any side effects from the vaccines.”
Dr Considine said SA was in a fortunate position now to be able to get its vaccination numbers up, and potentially avoid a similar situation to New South Wales where ICU departments are under severe pressure.
“In Sydney they’re starting to have to prioritise people coming in to ICU, we do not want to get to that point in SA where doctors and nurses in ICUs are having to look at who can we look after and save, and who they might not be able to save,” he said.
“The way to not get to that point is through vaccination.
“Let’s get this rate in SA right up so even if there is an outbreak, the numbers coming through our hospitals and ambulances are not overwhelming.
“Having the vaccination doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get COVID, but we would hope it would mean you wouldn’t end up in ICU on a ventilator and the impact would be less severe.”
Check the SA Health website for information and appointments www.sahealth.sa.gov.au