Can I start off by saying that last week’s article lead to more discussion and feedback than any of the previous ones I have written over the past 2 years and I thank all those who enquired how I was, wishing me well. For the record, I now feel back to normal and back doing as much as pre-COVID infection. Timing is everything…if I was ever going to get it, and as I said, I never ever wanted it, having it triple vaccinated certainly was the time to get it.
Boosters are now available for everyone after 3 months post completion of their primary course. It has recently been approved for those 16-18 yos also.
A quick reminder why boosters. And I know many of you have had yours but there are quite a few who haven’t. Vaccines are not perfect, not by a number of measures. For one thing, they were designed on the original strain of COVID-19 and we have seen and experienced a number of variants since then. The primary course has been shown to wane in efficacy quickly with time…that’s the bad news. But the good news is that a booster has been found to improve immunity greatly, building on the previous immunity to protect for longer. ‘How long’, you ask. Again, ‘not sure’ is the answer. It is an evolving picture and we are reacting to a moving target. And, of course, that is disappointing and can lead to uncertainty and a lack of confidence in what is advised.
However, I believe that in time we will look at the creation of these vaccines in record time as one of medicines greatest triumphs, that the number of lives that they have saved will put it up on the honour board alongside the discovery of antibiotics, or anaesthesia (a prerequisite for the advance of surgery) and the like. There is an enormous amount of work happening to make the vaccines better, to make them variant proof, to prevent the immune evasion that occurs with variants. There is also work being done on creating vaccines which are better at preventing transmission of the virus. We all now know that the greatest spread is through the upper respiratory route and developing a vaccine which not only gives ‘blood’ immunity but ‘mucosal’ immunity is gaining traction. We might see vaccination through a nasal spray rather than only through an injection in the future.
So, get your booster. Do not rely on the primary course. Give your immunity the boost required to keep the worst of COVID away. The boosters have been shown to decrease the likelihood of you being hospitalised or worse, and, although it does appear that this peak of Omicron is passing, the wave continues… and it would be a brave person to predict that this will be the last. Didn’t we say that for the last few variants?
Novavax has now been approved by the TGA and ATAGI for people over the age of 18 as a primary course. Not as a booster. Novavax contains a recombinant version of the spike protein of the CoV-2 virus, along with an adjuvant, ‘Matrix-M’, which helps create a strong immune response. Primary course is 2 jabs 3 weeks apart. We have ordered a batch, done the further training to administer and will be taking bookings for Novavax vaccinations very soon. We know that there are some of you who have been waiting for this, who didn’t trust the newer technologies of (mRNA) vaccines or were hanging out for it for other reasons; we will let you know through our website or facebook as soon as bookings are opened up….just waiting until we actually have it in the building!
Finally, another plug for getting children (5-11) vaccinated.We know that this is a highly emotive topic in some quarters. For it is true that, in the main, kids get over the initial infection better than the rest of us. But some kids do get really sick, as evidenced by full paediatric ICUs overseas. Then there is ‘Post-Covid paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome’, a rare but serious condition more common in this young age group. And long COVID occurs in kids also. We just do not know what the long term effects of COVID are in children to be complacent; the virus hasn’t been around long enough to know! Vaccination can prevent these complications. Vaccination also decreases the life- and school-disruption thatacute COVID causes and, by diminishing spread in this age group, it helps to decrease transmission to more vulnerable older age groups. It has been great to see so many kids turn up and get their jab; we encourage more to follow.