Top 3 Covid vaccine questions – anxiety with COVID, booster protections, and child Omicron symptoms

Department of Health

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Dr Lucas De Toca

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Good morning. I’m Dr Lucas de Toca and this is my first segment of the year. In which we will answer some of your questions you have been asking on our social media channels. As usual and not to change things this year I’m joined by Linda who will be doing Auslan interpreting. We are calling, sorry broadcasting from Ngunnawal country. I also want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands where you may be watching from.

Today we will talk about whether we are a little bit nervous now that COVID is very frequent in pretty much every state and territory and we all know people who have got an infection or ourselves had an infection recently. So, what do we do and what is it mean if we are unvaccinated or not? We will talk about protection after the booster and whether it wanes after four months and what we know but also what we don’t know yet and we will also talk about omicron symptoms among children and what are the differences with adults? Before starting, I also want to give a shout out to the healthcare workers, pathology testing staff, collection sampling personnel, immunisers, everyone in healthcare working incredibly hard over the holiday period as cases have been climbing and vaccine numbers have also been climbing. Everyone has been out, often separated from families to make sure patients are looked after, that COVID-19 tests are being collected and that vaccines have continued throughout the holiday period. Thank you to our health care workers for their ongoing work.

The first question today is I’m nervous about getting COVID-19 even though I’m fully vaccinated and what things can I do to lessen my anxiety? It is completely normal. We have done a major shift in the pandemic in Australia. Going from suppression of community transmission and very low numbers with very intent reporting of every case particularly in the states that had virtually zero COVID for quite a while. To now where we have thousands of cases every day and pretty much, we all know people who are currently sick with COVID or have had COVID. It is very normal to feel a bit stressed or a bit anxious in this pandemic shift even if you are vaccinated. The most important message is to be reminded that even though breakthrough infections do occur and the unvaccinated people rarely but can also get sick. The reality is that if you are up to date with your vaccination. The chances of you getting severe disease, hospitalisation and death from COVID are incredibly reduced. The vaccines remain very effective at protecting from severe disease, hospitalisation and death. Of course, continue to practice COVID Safe behaviours remains as important as ever and even more so because we have so much COVID in the community now compared to before. That those behaviours that we continue to practice are very effective. Wear a face mask if indoors and follow the local state and territory advice on where to wear them. In any context which you cannot achieve good physical distancing or in an indoor environment and of course there are exemptions to masks indoors including to facilitate communication as it is really important so Linda can properly convey the message to our Auslan using viewers. But then continue to practice the other behaviours that we have been practising over the last year or so, two years nearly now. Try to stay outdoors for gatherings if you can, if you’re indoors try to be in a well ventilated space with windows open if possible and try to avoid crowded spaces if possible. Continue to of course practice good hand hygiene, water and soap would be preferred but if that is not available, sanitiser is okay but make sure it is at least 60% alcohol. If you have any symptoms that are compatible with COVID, even if they very mild. It is safe to assume at this stage it is probably COVID. Stay at home follow the guidelines in your state and territory and either get a PCR or a rapid antigen test and stay isolated until you get a negative result. If you are due for your COVID vaccination you need to complete your primary course or you are due for your booster, please, please book now and make sure you’re up to date with your vaccination schedule. If you are 18 years and over and you have had your second dose, four months or more ago, make sure you get your booster so you maximise your chances of protection against infection, severe disease and hospitalisation.

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