Dear Bellingen Shire
9 February 2021
Just a few short points this week:
Actually how many people are still around who can remember sending a telegram? So exciting, just about as many characters as a SMS – or you pay a day’s salary. And the delivery was a great event – at least it was great after 1972 once my sisters’ friends were no longer in a war.
Anyway we are still awaiting final directions and details for the vaccine rollout, so I still don’t want to muddy the waters till we are confident we are giving you precise details. ie How, where , when, who.
No Covid19 cases north of Sydney, and just the one in the Illawarra.
12 months, last week, since the pandemic arrived on our shores. Wow.
Your Poo is good.
(This is a collective view of the absence of Covid19 fragments in Sewage of course. Your Poo may be a matter of great personal interest, pride, or concern to you or your long suffering family, in which case you are welcome to discuss it in detail with your long suffering but earnestly interested GP, or with anyone over the dinner table if you are a new parent with a little baby).
Our risk level is low but not zero. We dread complacency. The hospitals stay on Amber alert. (This is not a slight against anyone named Amber – I have a lovely niece named Amber – but it means that we will continue to wear masks in the hospital).
You may wonder from hearing on the news, -how the hell the State Health are convincing the quarantine workers to now get swabbed every shift? Up your nose every day?? No, they have developed a salivary test that is useful for screening. It is not as accurate as the nose and throat swabs – considered the “gold standard.” But it is easy, comfortable and will work well for large volume screening in that high risk work place – only. Don’t waste your money on schemes advertising home assessments for Covid19 using that technology.
Try to not listen too much to the panic mongering re the vaccines on the news. We are lucky to be observing from behind the rest of the world and to have a pretty tough TGA – who will only allow a treatment in once the evidence of safety is satisfactory. Each vaccine candidate has a different value. All 3 that Australia will be getting will prevent almost anyone (young and old) dying. Some of us think that is probably the main deal.
However, hear this! There will be reports of adverse events! There will always be adverse events. Now, a single case of an adverse event or anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) will ricochet around the world, and have Foxes and rabbits running mad in the media. As the great Guru Douglas Adams admonished in his philosophical epic trilogy of 5 books about a nerd hitchhiking around the galaxy: “Don’t Panic!”
Every day we have adverse events to things like riding in a car (mangling, death, injury, rage), Breathing (inhaling an angry bee), Walking – (tripping over and impaling your eye on someone’s hipster pointy shoe.) Please let’s keep some perspective. We know 1 in 10 people die of Covid19 if things are out of hand and 1 in 100 in the best circumstances. And pretty much all of us will get a version of Covid19 eventually. Generally serious adverse events from vaccines run at about 1 in 3 million, at worst 1 in 100 000. Do the maths.
And other things happen while people are getting vaccinated. As John Lennon sang “ Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. Wow life took it to the extremes for him. Hence the arresting news from Norway of, sadly, some very aged folk coincidentally dying after being vaccinated, has been discounted as not a reflection on vaccine dangers.
I would look forward to a lot of people getting a little fever, some aches and pains, sore arm, maybe a couple of days of mild flu like illness. These are all immune responses and indicate that the vaccine is prodding a giant – ie your immune system. They are not adverse events.
Plan your medical needs and get in early. Lots of normal health maintenance got put off through last year and the shutdowns. As GPs we have a big task ahead the next few months that may take up a fair bit of our time. So if you have things due to check-up with your GP, it might be a good idea to get sorted this month. We’ll know more once we finally have clear who is doing the rolling.
One thing I would like to point out now, and will again. When we start vaccinating we will need to move it quickly. If you have questions about any aspect, please make an appointment with your GP well beforehand and hammer out any concerns. Once we set up the roll out we will not be wanting it held up by a list of last minute questions.
A curiosity: A year has gone by since my practice saw a single case of influenza. And, we have had no influenza through our swabbing at the Bellingen Shire Covid19 Clinic! How good is hand hygiene and responsible avoidance of disease sharing??
I’ve been thinking about a reference to Elvis to work into a letter. Dangerously hallowed ground. Why Elvis? Well, you could say he was the first phenomenon in the media age to go viral. Maybe next week.
As always please check any detail, and get your check-ups sooner rather than later, with your own, earnestly interested, and quiet rock star, GP.
Dr Trevor Cheney