Top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions – Vaccine eligibility changes, accessing the vaccine and why getting vaccinated is important
In this video, Dr Lucas de Toca answers the top 3 questions you’ve been asking this week on our social accounts.
Good afternoon. I am Dr Lucas de Toca and I lead the Department of Health's primary-care response to COVID-19. Welcome to top three. Today I’m joined by Julie who will be doing Auslan interpreting. We're in the land of the Ngunawal people, nhuna dhawra, so I want to acknowledge the Ngunawal as the Traditional Owners of this place and also acknowledge the Owners of the many lands where people may be watching from. My shout out today goes again to the people in Melbourne. Thank you for all the work you'råe doing by respecting the lockdown and the public health measures and keeping yourself, your community and all of Australia safe. What you're doing is working. If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by the lockdown, and Melbourne has done it tough a number of times in the last 15 months, please reach out for help. Talk to a colleague, talk to a friend, family member or reach out to Beyond Blue, ReachOut Australia and the Kids Helpline. On health.gov.au, you can find information and resources that can help you if you need to reach out and talk to someone
What are the changes to the vaccine eligibility?
Yeah so very excitingly, more people are becoming eligible to access the vaccine in Australia. Today, the National Cabinet agreed to expand the eligibility to even more and more people so that the vaccine can become more available across the country. These changes will surface on the Eligibility Checker and the Vaccine Clinic Finder from next Tuesday, but we thought it was important that you become aware, especially if you're in one of those groups that have newly become eligible. So that includes all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 years and over. Previously all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and over were eligible and now that's extended to the entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult population 16 years and over. All NDIS participants aged 16 years and over, before we were talking about people with significant disability, now it's been extended to everyone who participates in the NDIS, of course, if they're 16 years and over. That also applies to all the carers of NDIS participants. Even if the NDIS participant themselves are not eligible because they're under 16, the carer is still eligible to receive the vaccine. That has also been extended to all adults aged 40 to 49. You probably have noticed that in some states like Victoria or the ACT, that had already taken place for those jurisdictions, but from Tuesday that will happen nationally. Everyone 40 years and over will automatically be eligible for the vaccine. This doesn't change the advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on the different vaccines that are preferred for different age groups, so of course if you're 16, between 16 and 49 years old, and you're eligible in any of the categories, the vaccine preference that will be offered to you is the Pfizer vaccine. If you're 50 years on over, it will be the AstraZeneca vaccine. But really good news for the Australian vaccine rollout, anyone 50 years and over is eligible from next Tuesday, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 16 years and over, all NDIS participants 16 years and over, and of course all the other groups that were already eligible under phase one, continue to be eligible. As always, the vaccines are absolutely voluntary but we strongly encourage you to, when you become eligible, go and get a vaccine because it's the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.
How do you access the vaccine?
Very easily and in more and more points of presence every day. The quickest way and simplest way is to head to health.gov.au and look for their Vaccine Eligibility Checker and Clinic Finder. The Eligibility Checker lets you check whether you're eligible, it's a bit obvious based on the name, and it will be updated on Tuesday with the new groups that become eligible that we talked about just before and then you will be able to enter your postcode and look for the many different available vaccine clinics that you can find either primary-care clinics, GPs, Commonwealth vaccination clinics or regional health services, or state and territory vaccination centres, that's the quickest and fastest way. You can also access it through the Healthdirect National Coronavirus Information and Helpline on 1800 020 080 if you don't want to, or are unable to, access the internet, you can call and they can direct you to their clinic closest to you that has available appointments. So reminder there's over 4300 general practitioners across the entire country, with general practices offering the vaccine right now to their patients in the broader community and there are hundreds of state and territory clinics that also offer the vaccine, so there's plenty of choice, plenty of options on where you could go and get your vaccine and all services are available on health.gov.au.
Why is it important for everyone to get vaccinated?
So we're incredibly lucky in the world, but in Australia that we have two vaccines that are incredibly effective at protecting yourself from severe disease, from getting really sick from Covid, from being hospitalized from Covid or even from dying from Covid, so that's the main reason why people should get a vaccine. The vaccines will protect you from the disease. As we've discussed in previous segments, there's more and more growing evidence that the vaccine also has an impact in reducing the chance of transmitting Covid to others. It doesn't completely eliminate the chance of getting the infection, but it makes the infection milder and not as much of a concern as if you weren't vaccinated, and it reduces your chances of passing it to others, as becoming more and more apparent. So vaccines are going to be a really really important part of getting us out of this pandemic state. They're another tool next to the public health restrictions, physical distancing, hand hygiene, etc. that you've been practicing over the last year and a bit, but they're the one that can actually help us bring back the confidence and the protection that we need to be able to move forward, open up and go back to some sense of normalcy after the very difficult year and a bit that we've been experiencing, so please go on health.gov.au, check your eligibility and the Vaccine Clinic Finder to find an appointment near you and when a vaccine is offered to you, we strongly encourage you to consider taking it. Thank you very much for watching. Thank you Julie for your interpreting.
- What are the changes to the vaccine eligibility?
- How do you access the vaccine?
- Why is it important for everyone to get vaccinated?