(By Dr Jenny Schram, for Foster Medical Centre).
I AM writing this on a glorious Sunday afternoon for next Wednesday’s Foster Mirror, not knowing what our situation will be by then. As of yesterday, we are back in lockdown right across regional Victoria, and there are some telling figures.
Firstly, of 440 active cases in Victoria, 103 are under the age of nine. It comes as no surprise to any parent that pre-school and primary age children are super-spreaders of many respiratory viruses. The difficulty is that early symptoms of the Delta variant of Covid-19 can masquerade as almost anything. In both adults and children, the only symptoms may be a headache, a minor scratchy throat which you might otherwise ignore, an apparently ordinary common cold or even gastro symptoms.
Delta spreads before and especially during the first day or two of symptoms. So, it is really important to get tested as soon as you notice the smallest symptom in either yourself or your children. This applies however remotely you live; whether you have been isolating; whether or not you are vaccinated; whether other family members have tested negative or however young the child.
At Foster Medical Centre we have been seeing too many patients a few days into an illness and some just mentioning in passing that they had a cold last week. Please do come forward for testing on Day 1 of every symptom – we will cope! It is just so important that if Delta gets here we find it quickly.
Secondly, to underline this today there are 27 people needing intensive care in Victoria of whom 12 are ventilated. All of these are unvaccinated, and many are young adults.
I would like to reiterate what should by now be a well-known phrase:
“The best vaccine for you is the one available now!”
We have ample supplies of both Astra Zeneca and Pfizer with appointments ready to be booked by ringing Foster Medical Centre on 5682 2088. Pfizer is currently available to our 40 to 59 year olds and Astra Zeneca to most people over 18. You can check eligibility on-line. Should you have concerns please discuss these with your GP.
As we have gained experience both locally and nationally the advice about Astra Zeneca has been revised. It is very reassuring to know that there is no link between a previous history of clotting and the unusual thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (TTS) syndrome which can occasionally happen with Covid 19 vaccination.
I have a particular message for our elder community members who may so far have declined a vaccination. Given the higher risk now of regional spread of the Delta variant, please reconsider your position. Our vaccination rates are good but there are still many in this at-risk age group unvaccinated. We are also running a free catch-up programme for those in the 70 to 79 age group who have missed out on Pneumonia or Shingles immunisation.
Please be kind and look after yourselves in lockdown. We cannot assume that Delta isn’t here or won’t be soon. As we’ve seen today in Mansfield it can take just one case to significantly disrupt medical services in a small community, especially with so many of us working across the Medical Centre, hospital and Prom Country Aged Care.
Before you bend the rules always ask yourself, “is this in the spirit as well as the letter of the law?” and think about the consequences of your actions.
Finally, if I may, a personal thought. I came to Foster two and a half years ago from the UK. I’m reminded of lines by Dorothea MacKellar:
I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains.
Since I arrived, Australia beyond Foster has experienced drought, bushfires, floods and even a mouse plague in addition to a global pandemic. Yet we are so fortunate here – just look at the UK, Europe and the USA for a Covid perspective. Let’s enjoy what we have, look after one another and do everything we can we to keep it this way.