When I got my first vaccination against Covid-19 back in September 2021, it was already becoming evident that the available vaccines gave limited protect against Covid-19, and there were potential side-effects. My doctor nevertheless recommended I get the AstraZeneca vaccine because he said it would be easier to manage the potential side effects, blood clots. He said that while rare, there would potentially be ongoing issues should I end-up with myocarditis, which was a documented side-effect of being vaccinated with Pfizer.
My preference would have been to not get vaccinated at all, to put more effort into keeping fit and working on increasing my natural immunity. But it was also increasingly evident, that my ability to travel interstate, get on a boat to go scuba diving, and even just to go to my local surf lifesaving club for a glass of wine, were activities that government was about to mandate I be double vaccinated for – or excluded from.
I decided to get vaccinated.
My unvaccinated friends did warn me that soon they/the government would be mandating a third dose, and on and on it would go.
I’ve been listening to the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, explain that whether a booster was going to become mandatory or not would depend on advice from the ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) and that decision would be made by 11th February. Those are my words, but this is more-or-less what she has been saying.
They published a new advice yesterday on 10th February, entitled: ATAGI statement on defining ‘up-to-date’ status for COVID-19 vaccinations.
It explains that the advice is to serve as ‘the basis for policies for the public health management of the COVID-19 pandemic’ and ‘the basis of the due and overdue rules for the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)’.
It is my ‘Immunisation History Statement’ as a green document that I flash from my mobile phone that currently allows me to Scuba dive with my local club, entry to the local surf club, and entry onto an aeroplane should I want to fly to Cairns or interstate. Without having an ‘up-to-date’ immunisation history statement these things would be denied me. Yet I’m told that being vaccinated is not really mandatory.
The specific advice from the ATAGI yesterday includes:
Booster dose is a subsequent dose after an appropriate primary schedule based on choice of vaccine and immunocompromise status. Eligibility is from 3 months after last primary dose. The minimum time frame for a booster dose to be considered valid is 2 months. Although a booster dose at any time after 3 months is safe and effective, people who have not received a booster within 6 months of completing their primary series will be considered overdue.
So, does this mean that I will effectively join the ranks of the unvaccinated, and become a pariah, if I’m not vaccinated within 6 months of my last AstraZeneca injection?
The national broadcaster uncritically reports the new advice:
Australia’s definition of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is set to change, with people aged over 16 years now only considered ‘up to date’ with their vaccinations if they have had booster shots.
- People will need to get a booster within six months of their primary course to be up to date
- The rule will not apply to international travellers coming to Australia
- Those not eligible for a booster will be considered up to date after their primary vaccine course
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended moving away from the term ‘fully vaccinated’.
ATAGI’s new advice was endorsed by national cabinet at a meeting on Thursday afternoon, but will not apply to international travellers arriving in Australia.
“A person is ‘up to date’ if they have completed all the doses recommended for their age and individual health needs,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Under the new rules, if it has been longer than six months since someone’s last primary course dose and they are eligible for a booster, they will be considered “overdue”.
Fancy that. New rules. New words. Time to overturn the tables.
All this when the latest advice from the British Medical Journal in an editorial dated 19th January is that we don’t know enough about Covid-19 vaccines.
Today, despite the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, the anonymised participant-level data underlying the trials for these new products remain inaccessible to doctors, researchers, and the public—and are likely to remain that way for years to come,’ the editorial states. ‘This is morally indefensible for all trials, but especially for those involving major public health interventions.’
The editorial also accuses pharmaceutical companies of ‘reaping vast profits without adequate independent scrutiny of their scientific claims,’ pointing to Pfizer, whose Covid vaccine trial was ‘funded by the company and designed, run, analysed, and authored by Pfizer employees’.
As far as I can tell I’m not eligible for an AstraZeneca booster, that the only booster available to me here in Queensland is Pfizer.
The feature image was taken at Heron Island on 10th November last year, I was only able to visit that coral cay because I was classified as fully vaccinated. My capacity to travel and to participate in community activities is going to be severely curtailed should I choose to not get ‘up-to-date’ and fall ‘overdue’ to this Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine.