Getting your COVID-19 vaccine – information for people with intellectual disability cover image
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[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health’, ‘Inclusion Australia’, ‘Getting Your Jab: the COVID-19 vaccine and people with intellectual disability, with graphic of two people in surgical masks standing beside a vial of vaccine giving the thumbs up]

[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]

Jamie Bannister:

Good morning everybody. I’m Jamie Bannister. I’m from Inclusion Australia. Inclusion Australia, for those people who don’t know, is the national voice for people with an intellectual disability and their families. And we’re really happy to be part of this work with the Department of Health to talk about the COVID-19 vaccine and people with intellectual disability.

I’m just here to really hand over to Nick and to Tara, but just to let you know what we’re going to be talking about today. The number one thing is why is getting a vaccine important right now, and we’ll hear a little bit about what’s happening with COVID-19 and why really we want as many people as possible to get the vaccine. Then we’re going to talk about what it’s like to get a COVID vaccine. And Tara has had a vaccine. She’ll be talking about her experience there. And then we’re going to be answering questions about the vaccine. And there’s two types of questions that we’re going to be looking at. One is that we’ve had questions that have already come in, and that will be part of the talk that Tara and Nick are going to do, and then on top of that, we’re going to have your questions. So if during the presentation while we’re going through you think of some questions, there will be opportunity to do that.

So Mikey our Auslan interpreter is online, and if you need an Auslan interpreter, Mikey is there. There’s also captioning is going to be available as well. Now there’s links that the team are putting in to the captioning. So if you need some captioning, that is already ready to go for you, and you can just see the link in the chat box.

Now just a reminder that this is a webinar that is being recorded, and what we know is that this time isn’t good for everybody. So we want as many people to see this, so it will be recorded and it will be on the Department of Health website, and you’ll be able to look at it again there, or you can share it with people who couldn’t be here today. So we want as many people to see this as well, because Tara and Nick, our superstar presenters, are definitely going to be worth watching again I reckon.

So about the questions. So you’ll be able to ask Tara and Nick questions. As I say, use that Q&A button, and there’s a little picture there that you can see of what that Q&A button looks like. So Q&A obviously means questions and answers. So if you type your question in there. And we’ve already had some as well, so people are using it, which is brilliant. We’re going to answer as many questions as possible, but if we don’t get to all of your questions, there will be some answers on the Department of Health website. So everything will get addressed at some point.

A lot of the questions we’ve got, I’d just like to acknowledge, have come from people with an intellectual disability already, and we just want to say a big thank you to all the Inclusion Australia member organisations who’ve helped people to send in those questions. They were all really good excellent questions, and I hope, as I say, some of those questions will be the ones that you want to see answered. But if not, jump in the chat box.

Okay. That is enough from me for now. I will be in the background helping out and here to help, but for now let’s get things more formally under way, and I’ll hand over to Tara to do our acknowledgment of country. Thanks everyone and have a good session.

Tara Elliffe:

We would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land that we are speaking from. We also acknowledge the traditional custodians on the lands each of you are living. We pay our respects to any First Nations people who might be joining us today.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Thanks Tara. So that’s us.

Tara Elliffe:

Cool.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Cool. Okay. So maybe we should tell them something about us Tara.

Tara Elliffe:

I think you’ve got this Nick.

Dr Nick Lennox:

You think I’ve got it? Okay. So I’m a medical doctor who’s worked with people with intellectual disabilities over many, many years, and I’m now working for the Federal Health Department, plus doing other bits and pieces, to try to improve the health of people with intellectual disability across Australia. And I’m also a father, and also been immunised. So Tara, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tara Elliffe:

I have three older brothers, lovely parents and two nieces. And I’m glad I have down syndrome. I love working with everybody to understand why we need this vaccination.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Cool. Okay.

And so what is happening right now? And there is a new type of COVID-19 called Delta that’s travelling throughout Australia and infecting people at the moment, particularly in Victoria and in New South Wales. But it’s a very, very easily spread virus, and it quickly goes between people. And because of that, Tara’s in lockdown, and lots of people in lockdown in Victoria, in New South Wales, our two biggest states. So it’s a real concern, because it’s spreading so much and it’s affecting so many people, and is one of the reasons why we’re here today to talk about why you should get vaccinated and why you encourage your family and your friends also to get vaccinated because of this Delta virus which is spreading.

So have you got some questions for me Tara?

Tara Elliffe:

Why do I need a vaccine?

Dr Nick Lennox:

The reason you need it is because it will actually protect you, and it actually is really good at protecting you from getting the virus, but also protecting you from getting really sick if you get the virus, and having the worst outcome, which is dying from the virus. And it will not only do that. It will also protect your family and friends if you’re vaccinated and have the vaccine. And I guess the other thing – and you’re in this at the moment Tara aren’t you – if you’re in lockdown, you can’t go out, you can’t meet your friends. And the more and more people get vaccinated, it means that we can do more of the things that we want to do, which is see our friends and do things with people and go out.

Tara Elliffe:

Have coffee or something.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. What are you looking forward to when you come out of lockdown?

Tara Elliffe:

Going out to see my friends, having a coffee, lunch and movies.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Movies. Yeah. So much so. And it’s been pretty tough hasn’t it?

Tara Elliffe:

Yes, it has.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. So that’s why we should have the vaccine, why you should have the vaccine now.

Tara Elliffe:

Thank you. What does the vaccine do?

Dr Nick Lennox:

So what the vaccine does, it actually teaches your body about this virus. It says these are the things on the outside of this virus, and your body learns to kill the virus, and it kind of gets a little training in that. And so if you ever come across this virus, your body is prepared to hit it really hard and fast. So that’s what it does. It’s a teaching program for your body to get it ahead of this virus. Yeah.

Does that make sense?

Tara Elliffe:

Yes. How many vaccines are there?

Dr Nick Lennox:

How many vaccines are there? There’s lots of different vaccines, but in Australia there’s currently two vaccines that are available. There’s the Pfizer vaccine and there’s the AstraZeneca vaccine. So that’s what we’ve got. There will be others coming down the track.

Tara Elliffe:

I hope so.

Which one will I get?

Dr Nick Lennox:

It depends on your age, and it depends on your eligibility for a particular vaccine. And it’s going to get clearer and clearer as we have more of the Pfizer. For most people it’s going to be the Pfizer, but people also like me are having AstraZeneca as well. But like everything in life, it’s got to fit with you and your circumstance. For different people it’s different things. So it really depends on you and what’s right for you, and we’ll talk about that a bit later.

Tara Elliffe:

Where can I get my vaccine?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Okay. So it has been difficult to get a vaccine, and I’m really sorry about that. I think there’s been a lot of difficulty getting the right vaccine delivered in Australia. And there’s a number of ways that you can find out where to get it. And I think I might go through these a few times, but on the various Government websites, and even linked from some of the disability websites, is an Eligibility Checker. So if you put in your age and other things about you, it will then say okay, you can get this vaccine, and it will point you to where you can get it.

The places it will say you need to go and book and make an appointment will vary, and it may be a local what they call hub, which is a big place where they have it all set up, or it may be through your local doctor or your local GP nearby. It may be from the service providers. Some of the service providers are setting up places. So there’s different ways that you can get the vaccine. And if you have problems, I would be talking to your doctor, even to the local pharmacist is the other place you can get your vaccine, or there’s things called primary healthcare networks in every part of Australia, and they can help you link in to where you get your vaccine and may help you get it the way that’s right for you. And I think that’s the key to the whole thing. Does that make sense Tara?

Tara Elliffe:

Yes.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Good. Okay. The trouble with being a doctor is you use too many long words, so I’ve got a bit mixed up.

Tara Elliffe:

That’s all right. What happens at the vaccine appointment?

Dr Nick Lennox:

So you go along and they confirm that you are you who’s booked in, because it’s really important they put the vaccine into the right person. And you’ll be greeted by somebody, possibly a receptionist.

They’ll take down your details and check it. Then you’re probably then required to provide consent, and often that will be done either through a nurse in the practice or in the facility, or somebody that’s trained to do that. And then they will give you the jab, and usually if you’re right handed, which I am, you have it in your left arm, and if you’re left handed, you have it in your right arm. And that’s the best place to have it. They will then say to you ‘Please stay around for 15 minutes so we know that you’re okay’. And that’s the standard thing. And then you can go home, and you’re fine to go home. That doesn’t seem too bad does it Tara?

Tara Elliffe:

I agree with that.

Why do I have to sign a consent form?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. A really good question. When we are treating people as doctors and nurses, it’s really, really important that the person understands why we’re doing what we’re doing, because it’s their body that we’re doing it to. And it’s I think so important for people with intellectual disabilities to understand what are the real good things about getting the vaccine, and what are the not so good things about getting the vaccine. And there’s very few that are not so good. But in everything you go to and anything that we do, whether it’s just a simple blood test, understanding why you’re having it and what’s the advantages or the good things about having it and the not so good things about having it, so that you feel comfortable and you understand, and you’re caring for your own body the best way you can I guess is what I think.

So that’s why you need to have consent.

Tara Elliffe:

Can someone help with the form?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Yes, they can. And I think it’s really, really handy to have somebody there that you really trust that can help if you need help, and you may not need help filling it out, just to make sure that you really understand it. Because somebody you trust knows you the best and gets a better sense than I would as a doctor meeting you for the first or the second or the third time about truly whether you understand what’s going on. So I think it’s really important to take somebody along with you.

Tara Elliffe:

What happens if people are scared?

Dr Nick Lennox:

So it’s not nice having a needle, any needle. Sometimes people don’t like going to see doctors. I don’t particularly to be honest. And so I think the best way if you’re scared, is go along with that trusted person. And it may be your mum, it may be your support worker, it may be a friend, it may be your sister. And take them with you. If you’re really worried, I suggest actually even taking somebody for a pre-visit, to go to where it’s going to happen and get used to the place and what it's like, and possibly even talk to staff, and just visit the place is really helpful, and get comfortable at that place.

I also think people can just try to do things that calm them down as well as they can. And it might be just taking slow deep breaths in and out, and practice with your family, or the other thing you can do is use distraction techniques, which is kind of a big word for doing something so you don’t think about the thing that’s happening. Listening to your favourite song, or even playing a game or things like that, that will take your mind off what’s happening for the time that it’s happening can be useful as well.

Finally, I think for some people – I know as a doctor that it is so stressful, that sometimes a little bit of medication that will help the person relax can be useful. And this is something that you have to talk to your local doctor about. It’s really important you do. And I’d suggest you try the medication before the actual appointment to see if it actually does help you and make you feel calm. But you really need to talk to your local doctor, because for some people it doesn’t help, and some people it does help. So yeah, I think they’re the type of things that you can do. And I’m sure people on the line have got other suggestions as well Tara about that.

Tara Elliffe:

Nick, just a quick question. What happens if some of my friends are scared of taking needles?

Dr Nick Lennox:

What happens?

Tara Elliffe:

What happens if they’re scared of a needle?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Well as I say, I think that if they’re scared of a needle, the only thing you can really do I think is practice, and even go with somebody who’s having the needle at the same time. That’s helpful. So if you can go with somebody who’s not scared of having needles, and somebody who can comfort you, they’re the things that occur. Do you have any suggestions about this Tara? What do you think they should do?

Tara Elliffe:

I think they should ask the doctor or the person to put them under and have it done, because it’s common for people who have the injection, they should have one of those masks to make you sleepy, and they can do it really fast and you’re out of it.

Dr Nick Lennox:

I think probably they won’t do that. I think that when we put people under, there’s a risk with doing that, which I wouldn’t recommend that. I think they should talk to their GP really Tara, your friends, and talk to you, and work out how they can get past that fear. It’s something that’s a bit more gentle to their body and their being than going under would be my answer.

Tara Elliffe:

Who knows?

Jamie Bannister:

Well I think one of the things that might be good – we’re getting some comments here guys about different ideas that people have had. And I think one of the things about who knows Tara, might be that people might have really good ideas, so if you do have ideas, please do share them, because our colleagues at Department of Health will be able to share those with other people as well. So different things work for different people.

So that was part one. Thank you guys for some great questions and answers. The next bit, we’re going to actually see a little video before we come back to some more questions and answers. So Tara, you did a video, and we’re going to look at that now and see about when you got your jab. So hopefully, if we’ve got our fantastic team there in the background, they can put that up for us. You guys can have a little bit of a minute’s break, and then we’ll come back to you after the video and Nick’s going to ask Tara some questions about that. So can we bring the video up please?

[Slide with text saying ‘Getting the jab: Tara’s story’, with image of Tara and a male in surgical masks looking to camera]

[START VIDEO PLAYBACK]

[The visuals during this video are of Tara attending her vaccination appointment and receiving her vaccination]

§(Music Playing)§

Tara Elliffe:

My name is Tara Elliffe. I’m part of the City of Sydney Inclusion Panel, and I’m on the CID advocacy committee and I’m part of DS, Down Syndrome NSW UP!Club president.

§(Music Playing)§

The reason I’m here, to protect myself from COVID-19 and the families and friends.

§(Music Playing)§

I had my jab, and it didn’t hurt at all.

§(Music Playing)§

My message is to be brave and have the jab. It’s okay. Just do it.

§(Music Playing)§

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘NSW Government (with logo)’, ‘Health’, ‘Sydney Local Health District’]

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

Jamie Bannister:

Fantastic video there Tara. Why did you choose to have that video done Tara?

Tara Elliffe:

To help other people to get it.

Jamie Bannister:

Okay. And that’s a really good reason. Nick, have you got any questions for Tara about her experience getting the jab?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Tara, I mean how did you find going there and going through the process of getting it? How were you feeling at that time?

Tara Elliffe:

I was a bit nervous, but I didn’t get nervous because my dad was there with me. I can have someone I can trust. So it was pretty good.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Right. And was he able to be there the whole time?

Tara Elliffe:

Yes. He was behind me the whole time.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Was he hiding away from the camera was he?

Tara Elliffe:

Yes. Trying to.

Dr Nick Lennox:

You said in the video that it didn’t hurt at all. Is that right?

Tara Elliffe:

That’s right.

Dr Nick Lennox:

I mean people don’t believe it, but that’s actually true. Sometimes you’re given an injection like that and it actually doesn’t even hurt. People don’t know they’ve had it actually, because it’s happened. So I think that’s a really important message for people actually. It doesn’t have to hurt. Did you get any problems after you had the vaccination? Were you okay afterwards?

Tara Elliffe:

I’m fine. I’m standing here on my two feet doing this presentation.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Right. So you didn’t get sick in the day afterwards?

Tara Elliffe:

No.

Dr Nick Lennox:

No? Nothing?

Tara Elliffe:

Nothing.

Dr Nick Lennox:

That’s fantastic. And which vaccination did you have Tara?

Tara Elliffe:

The Pfizer.

Dr Nick Lennox:

The Pfizer one? Good. Okay.

Tara Elliffe:

I’ve had two.

Dr Nick Lennox:

That’s excellent. That’s excellent. Okay. So really for you it went very, very smoothy.

Tara Elliffe:

Yes.

Dr Nick Lennox:

And did you find that the nurses and the other people that were there were listening to you and understanding you?

Tara Elliffe:

When we first did the video, it was smoothly, but not the second time.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Right. Okay. What happened the second time?

Tara Elliffe:

I was there with my support worker, and it didn’t go well.

She asked me ‘Can you repeat that again?’

Dr Nick Lennox:

Right. To repeat the information again?

Tara Elliffe:

Yep.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Okay. I think it’s really important to have good support there so that you get the right information and the health staff understand you, and for you. Is that right?

Tara Elliffe:

Yes.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Okay.

Actually as a doctor, I think it’s actually really useful, because you need to be trained up and you need to be questioned when you’re doing things, and pushed to understand individuals. Because you can get so busy, that you’re not as respectful as you could be, even if you want to be sometimes too. So it’s really the advocacy that you do and other people with disabilities do is actually gradually changing I think the way health staff are is my view. Do you think that’s true?

Tara Elliffe:

That’s true.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Cool. Okay.

Tara Elliffe:

When you get your jab, for everyone, just wait until you get your flu shot for two weeks, then have a break, then get your first dose, wait for two weeks, and then get the second one.

Dr Nick Lennox:

It depends on the vaccine, the dose and where you live in Australia at the moment, whether there’s - - -

Tara Elliffe:

Yeah. Because that’s how I did it.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Right. Okay.

Tara Elliffe:

I got my flu jab first, and two weeks, and then I got my first dose, and then two weeks before that, on the third week, I got my second dose.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yep. That’s right. There’s meant to be a two week gap. Yeah. That’s great. Thank you for that. I wonder if we shouldn’t go back to our questions.

You can grill me further.

Tara Elliffe:

Of course Nick.

Is the vaccine safe?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Look, the medical expertise – and there’s a lot of people and very smart people that understand this – they believe both the vaccines are actually not just safe, but actually very, very safe. But if you are worried, talk to your doctor and work through it with them. Look, they are really, really safe. I wouldn’t have got it myself and I wouldn’t have got my children to get the vaccine, or suggested they get it, had I not thought they were safe. And it’s one thing to say something is safe and it’s another thing to actually take the vaccine and prove it and actually walk the talk. So I’ve got no doubt in my mind this is a really good thing to do, and particularly for people with disabilities who are at a greater risk.

Tara Elliffe:

Yes. I agree Nick. Will you get a blood clot?

Dr Nick Lennox:

So the blood clot thing is with the concern about the vaccine called AstraZeneca. It’s actually extremely rare, and we’re talking like one in 50,000. That’s not a lot. And so it’s very, very, very, very unlikely that you’ll get a blood clot because of the vaccine.

And in fact, even if you do get some problems, Australia’s got the best record of helping people if they do get problems as well. We’ve got a really good system in place, and the treatments have been very effective in Australia. So yeah, good question.

Tara Elliffe:

Will I have a reaction to the vaccine?

Dr Nick Lennox:

If you look at it with the one called AstraZeneca, in fact it’s 37%, but around 40%, so that’s 40 people out of 100 who get it will get some mild side effects. They’ll get a bit of a sore arm where it happened. They’ll maybe get a bit of a fever and chills. They might get a bit of a headache, feel a bit sick.

And that will go for 24 hours or maybe 48 hours. So that happens with particularly the AstraZeneca first shot. It’s less common with the Pfizer one. It’s more likely you’ll get that effect in the first day or two in the second shot of the Pfizer. I think it’s around 20% or 20 people in 100 get that side effect. And it goes away. You can also get tiredness, just feel sick for a while. Yeah. So that’s what’s likely to happen, or can happen. Not likely to happen. The most likely to happen is what happens to you Tara actually. You get no side effect whatsoever. That’s the most likely. I got confused there. Sorry.

Tara Elliffe:

How long does the vaccine take to work Nick?

Dr Nick Lennox:

So it takes a couple of weeks for your body to start kicking in and protecting itself against this vaccine after the first jab. But you don’t get – it’s much better, to get the full protection, you must have the second jab. You only get very partial protection just from the first jab. So getting that first jab and then that second jab, and then you’re getting maximum protection. And it’s really surprisingly good protection actually.

Tara Elliffe:

How much does the vaccine cost?

Dr Nick Lennox:

This is the best part of the story. It’s absolutely free to anybody in Australia. And I think they make it free because they want everybody to have it, and it’s a great thing that it’s free.

Tara Elliffe:

All ages?

Dr Nick Lennox:

All ages. Everybody. Yep. Even if you’re not an Australian citizen and you’re in Australia, you can get it free I understand.

Tara Elliffe:

How do you book a vaccine Professor Nick?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Professor Nick. Cheeky.

So there’s lots of ways of doing this. The first one is going to either a State Government website or a Federal Government website or other organisation. Advocacy organisations would have them as well, or the NDIS, and you’ll click through and you’ll find that you’ll get to an Eligibility Checker. I know definitely from the Federal Government site. And then they’ll ask you a bunch of questions, like your age, whether you’ve got a disability, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Then it will say okay, you can get an appointment here, here and here. And that may be through a GP that’s locally. It may be through a hub that’s locally. It may be through a pharmacist. It could be a whole bunch of different places you can go. So that’s the standard way of going. And you can also – and I think it’s really important – getting somebody to help you to book an appointment I think is really important, and to make it as easy as you can. And it hasn’t been that easy, and that’s something that’s getting better and better and better in terms of making appointments. Does that answer the question?

Tara Elliffe:

Yes. I’m going to switch around. So why is it so hard for some people with a disability to get a vaccine?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Look, I think there’s been a number of things that have caused this difficulty. Initially we had problems with the amount of vaccines that we could get to people quickly. Also what was being implemented was new, and there was a whole lot of places that the Governments could use to try to do things, and they had to change what they were doing. I’m originally a GP, so I realise that if you’re a GP, you had to actually do a whole lot of training and you had to a whole bunch of different things and set up particular time. So these things take a bit of time to be frank. I think also because it’s new, I don’t like things new. I like to have things so I feel like I’m in control and in charge, and I think people get really anxious about it because it’s so new. So I think that’s been a problem. I also think that people are getting just tired and frustrated by how long this thing’s been going on for, and it is really difficult, and many people are doing it tough. They’re doing it hard, and that’s making it difficult.

I think finally, there’s also been concerns about the side effects, particularly with the one called AstraZeneca. And there’s been particularly I think in social media an over-emphasis on the risks of that particular vaccine compared to the huge benefits of that vaccine. So I think those things have all played. But it hasn’t been good enough, and the Government’s listening to be honest. The communications people, the vaccine taskforce, I’ve seen sitting down and really trying to nut out solutions to this at every different level. It’s been fascinating to see how committed people are. Anyway, I think it’s going to get better.

Tara Elliffe:

I want to get my vaccine, but I cannot get an appointment.

Dr Nick Lennox:

I think we’ve done that one Tara.

Tara Elliffe:

No, we didn’t.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Didn’t we? Okay. If you can’t get an appointment, I think at the moment, again do all those things I just talked about, but also I’d go back to your GP and get them to help you. And it’s not uncommon for a GP to step in when they need their patient to get access to something and ring ahead to help you with that. I think there’s now – and I can’t remember, but it’s a lot of pharmacists involved in that, in vaccine rollout. Talk to the pharmacist if you have a local pharmacist and see if they can help you. I think you can talk to your service providers. A lot of the service providers are now linked in with various hubs. Finally, there’s things called primary healthcare networks, PHNs, and they are all across Australia. And they have increasing ability to help you to what they call facilitate, which just really means help you – fancy word – to get a vaccine. And they won’t do it, but they’ll talk to other people and arrange things. And you’ve just got to search for your local area, because it depends where you are. The primary healthcare networks, or PHNs, have got that capacity as well.

So that’s what I would say if you’re having difficulties. And I guess it’s also returning to having somebody who you trust and that’s helping you do it as well, and can help you advocate for the best thing for you. Difficult question Tara.

Tara Elliffe:

Sorry about that. If I do not get my vaccine now, can I get one later?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Absolutely you can get one later. But I would not delay. I really wouldn’t delay. The Delta virus is so contagious and is eventually going to go across Australia. And the sooner you get the first jab, the sooner you can get the second jab, and the sooner you’ll be as protected as you can and look after your body and you and your family. It’s just so important. I really can’t emphasise it. I almost plead with people to get ahead of this and not take a risk.

Tara Elliffe:

Getting information is hard.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. There’s a number of sources for information, and I think in the chat they’ll put up some links. There’s some real kind of information from organisations like Inclusion Australia on their website, like the Council on Intellectual Disabilities, and there’s plain language stuff out there that’s very clear and it’s got wonderful graphics, like these ones here, to explain stuff. Also there’s links on the NDIS website. But there’s a number of them, and I know that in the chat they’ll put up some of these links. Yeah. I was going to quote one, but I can’t remember the link. Yes. AdvoKit is one I came across that people directed me to recently, and they provide some really clear information about the various vaccines. Jamie’s appeared. Looks like he wants to say something.

Jamie Bannister:

Well I just want to bring in some questions. First of all, thank you so much you guys. It’s a really great chat that we’ve heard. And thank you for really addressing all of those issues. But we do want to give people an opportunity to ask you questions, and want to go to the chat box if we can, to the questions. So for a second we’re going to turn off this presentation, and hopefully we can see some of the questions that have been coming up. Also, if you do want to have a look as well, when you were talking about ways, if people are a bit scared, loads of people have shared really interesting good ideas about that, and we’ll make sure that they’re shared as well, as well as all the links. So we’ll get to them.

So I’m going to try and now have a look at some of these questions, and we will see what we’ve got. And of course we’ve got 30 questions, so we will do our absolute best to get through them. And I’ll work out how this works. I’m just trying to make this a bit bigger on my screen. How do I do that? Come on Jamie. Okay. Here we go. So the first question is about people who are afraid of needles. So I think we covered that. So thank you Christine.

The second question is probably for Nick.

Q:        For people who are 60 or over who are unable to have AstraZeneca due to medical conditions and other reasons, how can people get an alternative like Pfizer or Moderna?

Dr Nick Lennox:

At the moment they won’t be able to get Moderna as far as I’m aware. Again, I have to say I would be talking to your GP. I’d be going and discussing how you can – because it is rapidly changing. In fact I think even today the availability and eligibility for Pfizer has increased quite substantially. So it’s a really changing situation. So if it was me, I would go and talk to my GP about it, and I think that you would have a solution very soon actually.

Jamie Bannister:

Some similar questions. They’re all from Sarah. So I’m just looking to see - - -

Dr Nick Lennox:

Jamie, can I just add something to that?

Jamie Bannister:

Of course. Yeah, please.

Dr Nick Lennox:

With regard to the Pfizer, there’s now – and off the top of my head I can’t remember the doses, but Pfizer will be available through GPs and a number of GP clinics, and they will know – I was in a briefing earlier in the week, and they will know which clinics eventually will have the Pfizer. And that knowledge I think will be out there in the next day or two, if not already out there. So yeah, it’s happening, and it’s increasingly available. Thanks Jamie. Sorry.

Jamie Bannister:

No. That’s good. And some of Sarah’s questions are about that choice of vaccine, and there’s a couple of comments in there. So she just makes the point that it’s about choice, and that not everybody’s got that choice. So I’ll do what they do on Q&A and maybe take that as a comment. Tracey has said:

Q:        My daughter has a fear of needles. Holding her down is very traumatic. How can she safely access a COVID vaccine?

So again, that goes back to this fear question. And we’ve talked about some tips, but do either of you have any advice on that situation that we haven’t covered already?

For people who are scared of needles?

Dr Nick Lennox:

One of the things we do and psychologists do is do desensitisation processes. And the old centre I had, we used to have a desensitisation video for example for people going to the dentist, which is also very invasive. And so you could actually talk to, if there’s a psychologist there, to set up a program to desensitise and do those calming techniques in a more formal way. That would be the only thought I’d have in addition to what I’ve already said Jamie.

Jamie Bannister:

Yeah. And again, just looking at the comments that people have put, this is a big concern for people. It seems to be the number one concern. Jane, Madeleine. There’s a few other people mentioning this fear. So I think the more that we can share what really works – obviously it’s very personal and individual isn’t it, but the more that we can share some ideas about this – Madeleine has a sibling with an intellectual disability who is not able to give consent and is terrified of injections. She says:

Q:        Is it going to be better just to go with the herd immunity for him, or can we go down the path of actually having him sedated so the vaccine can be administered?

I mean there’s a lot in that question isn’t there Nick?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah, there is. There’s lots of risk considerations. And my further thought to what I said about – there’s a risk with sedation of course, but the other thing is that sometimes people may be only able to have dental care for example and require sedation, a significant sedation for that. And you can cleverly construct it so when they go in to have their dental review that requires an anaesthetic or at least some medication, at the same time – and we’ve done this – we’ve done blood tests or given a vaccination. So that’s the way that I think would be an appropriate – if that’s happening. And my experience in this area is that many people don’t have good dental care, so getting that dental review is actually quite important as well.

But again, it’s from area to area. It’s individually focused, and it has to be set up ahead of time.

Jamie Bannister:

Sorry to interrupt there. Michael who’s joined us, he said:

Q:        I was scared too, but my mum stayed with me all the time.

So I think that’s similar to what you said Tara about having somebody with you who could help. Yeah?

You recommend that?

Tara Elliffe:

Yes. I recommend your mother.

Jamie Bannister:

Yep. Always mum. It might be dad. It might be someone else. There’s lots of people. It’s often mum. Radika said – again, Radika sounds like somebody who knows what they’re talking about:

Q:        The Emla patch can be provided before an injection.

Do you want to tell us what an Emla patch is?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Thank you. Because I should have mentioned this. It just makes your skin a bit numb, and therefore you won’t experience pain. Again, you’d have to work out if that’s okay for you. And again, it’s a conversation with your doctor.

Jamie Bannister:

Madeleine makes a point, and again just about this session:

Q:        Will we have a seminar that’s directed more for advocates for people with an intellectual disability?

So yep, this session absolutely was aimed at people with an intellectual disability so people could have that conversation, and we’re really happy to have so many people in that. Will there be other sessions? Well the Department of Health I think will try and provide the sessions that are needed, but I think it’s really good that we start from a position where everybody can understand, and hopefully that we’ve been able to do that today.

So Sarah said:

Q:        People of all ages should be asked which vaccine they want to have.

Nick, any comment on that?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Well I think it’s all going to change. My comment is that for most of the people with intellectual disability who are now under 60 – and that’s the vast majority – then they’re going to largely get the Pfizer. So I think it’s really not my decision. And choice is really important, but I think that there’s going to be in the next little while you’re basically going to get – most people want the Pfizer over the AstraZeneca.

Jamie Bannister:

So another couple of questions. Sorry Tara, I think a lot of these questions are for Nick unfortunately, so hopefully there’s some that we can get for you. Radika has also said:

Q:        What obligation does a disability service provider have with the consent form? Does the provider need to keep a copy of it?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Actually, I don’t know the answer to that Jamie.

Jamie Bannister:

Okay. So we’ll take that one on notice.

Dr Nick Lennox:

My natural reflex would be to say yes, because why wouldn’t you, to make sure as a kind of due process. So I’d say yes, but I don’t know the legal answer to that.

Jamie Bannister:

Okay. Rebecca gave a good tip where she said:

Q:        You can get through the whole appointment without seeing the needle if the staff know, and sometimes that helps.

So that’s a good tip for people delivering that. And then there was one that I saw by Tracey.

Q:        There is a sensory vaccine hub at Blacktown. I believe this is the only one in Sydney. Why are they only accepting people from their own local area health? My daughter meets the criteria except for where she lives.

I don’t think that Nick will have the answer to that, but the idea of a sensory vaccine hub seems like a good one does it not?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah, they’re really good. They’ve got one down in Queensland near me. Well not near me. Some distance from me actually as well. It’s a really good idea. I don’t know why they’re doing it selectively in New South Wales. But I would be making sure that the advocacy organisations hear that this is a problem.

Jamie Bannister:

Yeah. And so maybe one of the things that we can do is make sure that people know where those sensory hubs are, and that might be a really good thing. So that would be good. And as I said, I think a lot of these comments are maybe ones that we need to get the Department to follow up on. So we will ask them to do that. Not to shut down anyone, but I’ve looked through all of the questions. There’s a comment there about the Canberra sensory hub there and how people feel about it. And Rebecca said:

Q:        New South Wales Health here. Many of the vax clinics can help with low sensory settings if you call ahead.

So that’s a useful thing for people to know. I will just finish the comments with Michael has said:

Q:        Thank you so much for this webinar. It is really helpful.

Thank you Michael. That’s a really kind thing to say, and I’m glad that you have found it helpful. So hopefully we’ve answered lots of the questions as we’ve gone along. There’s just a couple of slides. We’re going to finish within the next couple of minutes, but there’s another couple of slides that we just want to show you to finish off.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Can I interrupt there Jamie? I’m sorry. There’s also in-reach possible, GPs that are doing the vaccine, that will do it. Some of them have registered to do in-reach into houses. So in lieu of not having a sensory hub, across Australia there increasingly will be the capacity for some GPs to sign up to do in-reach and can come in the home if they’re prepared to do that. There’s also specific, and there has been specific in-reach services I know of in Victoria, and I think in New South Wales as well. So it’s looking for those things. And I would be talking to a whole delve of places we’ve talked to, to see if that’s available to craft it – if you can’t get to a sensory hub, to craft it for the person that you support, care for, and make it accessible.

Jamie Bannister:

And that was one of the questions as well. There’s another question that I saw a couple of times there about people finding out about their booster shots. So again, I’m not sure where we are. Obviously Nick you’ve emphasised people getting one jab and then two jabs. That’s beyond that isn’t it, the booster jab?

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yes. It’s definitely beyond that, and I think we’re going to be around Christmas and beyond before we start really getting into the booster shot maybe for the people that started early.

Jamie Bannister:

So we’ve just got a couple of minutes left, and we don’t want to keep people longer than 12 o’clock, or 10 o’clock over in WA. So Tara’s just got a couple more comments that we’re going to share on screen.

Tara Elliffe:

Everyone gets a choice if they want to have a COVID-19 vaccination or not. Everyone should have support and information when deciding to have the vaccine. You can change your mind.

It’s okay to feel nervous about getting the vaccine. It is your choice to have the vaccine. You can change your mind. If you want to change your mind, you can have the vaccine at another time.

Jamie Bannister:

And that’s the end of our webinar. Can I just say on behalf of everyone, thank you so much. And I’ll give you a round of applause. And thank you to Mikey our interpreter, to Tara and Nick who’ve put a lot of work into making today happen, and to all of the team. Thank you Tara and Nick. I hope everyone found that really useful. Do you have anything else that you’d like to say to everybody? Any final message?

Tara Elliffe:

I just want to say thank you.

Dr Nick Lennox:

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for coming along, and thank you for talking to your friends about this and supporting people to get the vaccine. It’s so important.

Jamie Bannister:

Thank you. So Tara, Nick, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for your expertise. I’m sure that people will want to be in touch with you. You were great, so thank you.

As we said, the webinar has been recorded, and it will be available on the Department of Health website. But we will share that through the Inclusion Australia networks. And thank you to all of the disability community who’ve been so active this week in sharing this, and we’re really grateful. It’s great to see the community coming out and talking about this.

And just a reminder, Nick mentioned AdvoKit, where you can find out a lot of accessible information about the COVID-19 vaccine and other things about COVID-19. And there’s lots of other great resources. CID have got some wonderful easy read resources. Many organisations have. Let’s share. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s keep making sure that people with disability can get vaccinated, and go from there.

So as I say, I’m Jamie Bannister from Inclusion Australia. Thank you all so much. Go well, and we’ll see you at our next session, wherever that may be. Thank you so much. All the best.

[Closing visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health’, ‘Thank you’, ‘For more information on COVID-19 vaccines visit www.health.gov.au’, ‘The webinar was hosted by the Department of Health with support from Inclusion Australia’]

[End of Transcript]

Date published: 
16 September 2021
Video type: 
Presentation
Description: 

Moderator

  • Jamie Bannister – Inclusion Australia

Panellists

  • Dr Nick Lennox – Senior Medical Advisor for Disability & Health, Department of Health
  • Tara Elliffe – Self-Advocate from NSW and Up Club President, Down Syndrome Australia