Date published: 
9 June 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

ALLISON LANGDON:           

Well, a glimmer of hope for Melbourne this morning with the city on track to come out of lockdown on Friday.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

The decision hinging on there not being a spike in cases, of course. For more, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan joins us again from Canberra this morning. Professor, thank you for your time again.

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

Good morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

Do you see any reason for the lockdown to be extended at this point?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

Look, Karl, as we know, the decision about the lockdown will be made by the Chief Health Officer, and the Victorian Government. I think we're seeing many promising signs. We're seeing the cases are all linked, and people are in quarantine. So, let's see what they come up with in the next few days, I would suggest that we will see a paced return from lockdown. I think we heard Professor Brett Sutton say yesterday it won't go back to normal straightaway but I think, I like everybody else, do hope for the benefit of all Melburnians that they will see some changes in the coming days.

ALLISON LANGDON:           

Yeah. We're all hoping for that. We know there are now 14 cases linked to this Delta variant. Do you anticipate that that number will grow?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

It is possible. The- it is, as we know, a much more infectious variant of this virus, and we've seen that in recent times. And that is, of course, of concern. And although, hopefully, if we do see it, it will be people who are already in quarantine, and so we don't see any further spread. But, you know, we always said and knew that there were likely to be more outbreaks, until such time as we've got a fully vaccinated adult population in Australia. So, you know, it's just a reminder to everyone across the country of, that this virus is still with us.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

I think a lot of people, and rightly so, are saying - who live in Melbourne - listen, if we know where they've all come from, if the contacts have been established, then why are we still in lockdown?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

I think - well, I think they'll be very cautious, and proportionate, is the word often used - that's another word really for being careful and considered. We've not been able to identify where this came from as a- now we're using this term upstream. And we may never find that. Everyone is working incredibly hard through this [audio skip and through genomics to try to identify its source, but it's just that confidence that they've identified where this strain has spread, and make sure that through this terrific contact tracing process that they have now in Victoria, they've identified all of the risks.

ALLISON LANGDON:           

You've talked about the importance of adults being vaccinated. How do you feel about the TGA potentially approving Pfizer jab for kids?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

Look, I have absolute confidence in the TGA. They've served us so well as our regulator for such a long time. They will consider and look at all of the current evidence. A lot of other countries are now vaccinating children so we'll be able to access that data, and when they feel it's time, and given, of course, we've prioritised through the eligibility process - vaccinating the most vulnerable first - it may be that we'll see children get access to this vaccine in the coming months.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

You're going to have your job ahead of you trying to convince some parents, obviously. We've been running a poll - 40 per cent of parents wouldn't let their kids get the jab. There's going to be a little bit of an issue, isn't there, as there always is, in convincing people to get it done?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

There is, Karl, but remember that Australia is incredibly successful at our regular vaccine program. Very high proportions of our children get all of those childhood vaccines, and, you know, this is part of that same process - ensures that it's safe and effective for children, and when that information is available, and TGA feel [indistinct], then they'll make those recommendations and then we'll work to inform families about what this means for them and their children.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

It's hard enough convincing some adults; I think in aged care, there's still a percentage of workers in aged care who don't want to get vaccinated.

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

We know, though, that we know a lot more about hesitancy and this concern that people have, Karl, and some of the things that we've been doing, making sure that there is easy access for aged care workers, through a whole range of different places, providing them the information so they can make the best decision for themselves, and doing that also in multiple languages, so that people can understand in a way that works for them.

So, lots of encouragement to get aged care workers vaccinated. As you know, almost the entire aged care facilities are now vaccinated, and we're well on our way to completing the second doses.

ALLISON LANGDON:           

Should it be mandatory for them? They do work with the most vulnerable.

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

This is a live debate in our community, and at the moment, AHPPC have recommended not to mandate this vaccine but are strongly recommending that all aged care workers do get the vaccine. And we're doing everything we can to identify any barriers to them doing that and providing them, as I say, all the necessary information, so that they can be confident that they can get this vaccine.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

And one final one. This is your forehand, but a lot of women are nervous to get the vaccine, if they're trying to get pregnant or they are. Do we have any more research from overseas that we can glean information from now?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

Yes, Karl. We do. And I think that we'll see additional advice on women who are planning to get pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding. ATAGI continue to provide that advice and we are saying that for women, it is a safe vaccine. Because in other countries we're now seeing significant numbers of pregnant women vaccinated, the data is stronger and that we'll continue to provide that strong advice. For any woman who's not sure, talk to your GP or your midwife or your health professional and work through what's best for you and your baby.

ALLISON LANGDON:           

All right. Some very good advice there, Professor. Thanks for joining us this morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

Thanks, Professor.

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