Here’s how a booster shot can protect you and help end the pandemic faster

With the highly transmissible variant of Omicron COVID-19 spreading to just about every part of Australia, many have resigned themselves to contracting the virus.

But experts fear that some people will wander around, trying to catch it – at a time convenient for them – to “be done”.

Although early signs point to Omicron’s symptoms being milder than in other COVID-19 variants, epidemiologists urge Australians not to play ‘Russian roulette’ with their lives and get extra protection thanks to booster injections.

Here’s how getting the booster can make a difference.

Why you shouldn’t ‘just get COVID’

Adrian Esterman, chair of the chair of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of South Australia, fears people – especially young Australians – will become jaded about the potentially deadly virus.

“You hear stories of people hosting COVID parties to try and get infected. They are playing with their lives and the lives of those close to them,” Professor Esterman said.

“We are seeing people in their 30s who die of COVID-19 without any other pre-existing illness.

“So it’s kind of like Russian roulette. It’s up to them if they’re willing to take this chance.”

Experts fear young people will try to get infected, but warn they are playing Russian roulette with their health.(Unsplash: Tim Marshall)

He said it was incorrect to assume that everyone would get COVID-19, and that people should avoid it at all costs because there was no way to predict how one would react to it.

“It can be pain, headache, brain fog, difficulty breathing, nervous problems. In fact, COVID-19 can affect just about any organ in the body.”

Professor Esterman said the only way to prevent transmission to yourself and your loved ones is to get the booster back.

From January 4, eligible Australians who received their second vaccine at least four months ago were able to receive a booster dose.

What is the difference between two and three shots?

While two injections can minimize your risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, supplementing both with a booster can dramatically reduce the chances of catching Omicron.

“Unless you get your booster you get almost no protection from infection with Omicron and we are now seeing it in the number of cases,” Professor Esterman said.

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely said that although researchers have yet to obtain “precise” data, early signs have shown that the boost provides up to 70% protection against infection with the variant Omicron.

“Raising means that, even if you are infected, you are less likely to transmit it… by reducing the total number of people likely to be infected by the end of the epidemic,” he said.

How Getting the Recall is Helping End the Pandemic

Professor Esterman said that while we are “definitely a long way” from an end of the pandemic, getting the recall would help speed it up.

“The more we can increase the number of people as soon as possible, the more the Omicron wave can be slowed down and the peak diminished, which will both reduce the number of sick people and make it easier to manage health services,” said Professor Blakely. noted.

So far, 43.8% – or 3,651,855 – of people aged 18 and over across the country had received their booster injection.

Below is a breakdown of state administered reminders and their use.

States such as Victoria and South Australia have already imposed a third blow on people working in certain industries, such as healthcare.

Will “fully vaccinated” be reduced from two to three injections?

“It is inevitable that the definition of fully vaccinated will soon become three doses. I support this,” Professor Blakely said.

The Department of Health said the Australian Immunization Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) currently considers people who have received two shots of a vaccine as fully immunized.

“This definition can be updated over time, based on emerging evidence, if necessary,” a spokesperson for the department said.

Professor Blakely said anyone can guess how often in the future we would need to get callbacks, but a “plausible scenario” was every six to 12 months.

The syringes are in a tray.
There are early indications that a recall may offer 70% protection against the Omicron variant.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

In addition to vaccinating the population, additional public health measures will be needed to slow the spread of Omicron and see the pandemic period become endemic.

Meanwhile, New South Wales has banned singing and dancing in halls and Queensland has delayed the start of the school year to help bring the numbers down.

“They are almost certainly going to have to increase [public health measures] even more over the next two weeks, as the number of hospitals becomes too high, ”said Professor Esterman.

“So the answer is, we’re not handling it well. “

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