Informed, engaged communities for health

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#16nrhc
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#ICEM22
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NAISA22
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#RANZCP2022
#RTP22
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Choosing Wisely National Meeting 2022
Equally Well 2022 Symposium
GiantSteps22
Croakey Professional Services
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#KidneyCareTogether
ACSQHC series
ACSQHC series 2019
ACSQHC series 2020
ACSQHC series 2021
ACSQHC series 2022
CATSINaM 25 Years
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
@WePublicHealth2022
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
ICYMI
Inside Story
Journal Watch
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Donor-funded journalism
Donor-funded journalism – 2020
Donor-funded journalism – 2021
Donor-funded journalism – 2022
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2022-23
Federal Budget October 2022
Federal Election 2022
SA election 2022
The Election Wrap (2022)
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
Flooding 2022
Global health
NHS
NSW 2022
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
Aged care
Allied healthcare
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
Health reform
health regulation
Health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
Mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
Nursing and midwifery
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
Primary Health Networks
Primary healthcare
private health insurance
Rural and remote health
Safety and quality of healthcare
screening
sexual health
Social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
Health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
Monkeypox
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
Public health
Public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
commercial determinants of health
discrimination
education
Housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart/JobSeeker
poverty
Racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Summer reading 2021-2022
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021
Support non-profit public interest journalism
Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#16nrhc
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#ICEM22
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NAISA22
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#RANZCP2022
#RTP22
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Choosing Wisely National Meeting 2022
Equally Well 2022 Symposium
GiantSteps22
Croakey Professional Services
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#KidneyCareTogether
ACSQHC series
ACSQHC series 2019
ACSQHC series 2020
ACSQHC series 2021
ACSQHC series 2022
CATSINaM 25 Years
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
@WePublicHealth2022
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
ICYMI
Inside Story
Journal Watch
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Donor-funded journalism
Donor-funded journalism – 2020
Donor-funded journalism – 2021
Donor-funded journalism – 2022
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2022-23
Federal Budget October 2022
Federal Election 2022
SA election 2022
The Election Wrap (2022)
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
Flooding 2022
Global health
NHS
NSW 2022
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
Aged care
Allied healthcare
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
Health reform
health regulation
Health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
Mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
Nursing and midwifery
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
Primary Health Networks
Primary healthcare
private health insurance
Rural and remote health
Safety and quality of healthcare
screening
sexual health
Social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
Health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
Monkeypox
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
Public health
Public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
commercial determinants of health
discrimination
education
Housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart/JobSeeker
poverty
Racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Summer reading 2021-2022
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021

As Federal Government expands access to COVID vaccination, experts call for a vaccine-plus strategy

Introduction by Croakey: From Monday 11 July, Australians aged 30 and over will be able to have a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, although it will only be officially recommended for adults aged 50 to 64, in addition to the groups who were already eligible.

Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler says an additional 7.4 million people will become eligible to receive a fourth dose, as a result of the Government accepting updated recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) updated its recommendations.

The ATAGI statement (7 July) says a surge in COVID-19 cases from Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants is expected to worsen in coming months and that increasing the uptake of winter booster doses in those most at risk during this time is anticipated to play “a limited, but important role in reducing the risk from COVID-19 to individuals and pressure on the healthcare system”.

The statement says:

“Based on first principles and currently available evidence, reaching a higher level of coverage of the COVID-19 winter booster dose in older adults, including those aged 50 to 64 years, is likely to reduce the number of COVID-19 related hospitalisations over the coming months.

“However, the impact of this expanded vaccine booster recommendation alone is expected to be limited. ATAGI advises that other public health and social measures, in addition to vaccination, will have the greatest impact against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 surge in infections. This includes increased use of masks and increasing the use of antiviral treatment in people diagnosed with COVID-19, including in people aged 50 years and above.”

Butler also told journalists today: “I’ve also put a strong case before the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee asking them to expand access to these highly effective oral antiviral treatments, tablets and capsules that can be taken at home and dramatically reduce the risk of severe disease particularly for older Australians and I’m eagerly awaiting advice from that advisory committee about our submission.”

The developments come as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) releases its biennial ‘Australia’s Health’ report, which contains a wealth of data on our health system and our health, including quantifying the impacts of COVID upon Australians.

In response to this report, Minister Butler released a statement highlighting some of the positive findings in the report (overall Australians are living longer and healthier lives) and acknowledging some of the negatives (out-of-pocket medical costs, long COVID, rising rates of mental illness and the persistent health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians).

Below, we cross publish two related articles from The Conversation:

‘How has COVID affected Australians’ health? New report shows where we’ve failed and done well’. Professor Stephen Duckett, Honorary Enterprise Professor, School of Population and Global Health, and Department of General Practice at the University of Melbourne, discusses how the AIHW report helps us assess both the pluses and minuses of Australia’s response to the pandemic and suggests the need for a nuanced “vaccine-plus” strategy to reduce unnecessary COVID deaths in the future, particularly among people living with disadvantage.

‘Access to a second COVID booster vaccine has been expanded to people 30 years and over’. Professor Raina MacIntyre, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute, and Professor of Global Biosecurity at UNSW, argues that much more could be done to mitigate and prevent COVID, by using a “vaccine-plus” strategy of layered measures (and read more on this approach in a previous Croakey article, ‘Another COVID wave is rolling out, so what more could governments be doing?’)


Stephen Duckett writes:

The SARS-CoV-2 virus was first detected in Australia on 25 January 2020. Within two months, the lives of all Australian were upended.

Australians were stranded overseas as external borders were slammed shut. State borders were closed to people from other states. Lockdowns severely restricted movement of the population. People watched in fascination as case numbers went up and then down.

The daily drama dragged on for months, with premiers and chief health officers fronting the media with announcements of case numbers and tightening or loosening of restrictions.

But the daily spectacle made it difficult to see the wood for the trees. Now, new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows how Australians’ health changed over the course of the pandemic. It allows us to step back and assess what happened, and to whom.

Australia’s management of the pandemic was overall very good, leading to about 18,000 deaths averted in 2020 and 2021. This was primarily due to restricting arrivals and hotel quarantine for those who did arrive, and lockdowns when quarantine was breached, which inevitabley happened.

From late 2021, with more than half the total population vaccinated, these restrictions were lifted following the Morrison Government’s national plan, released on August 6 2021.

However, the pandemic is not over. The number of deaths in the eleven months since the plan was released is almost ten times the number than in the 18 months before.

An inequitable impact

Australia has had four pandemic waves so far. Daily deaths during the first three waves peaked at around 20 per day. The peak in the current wave is much higher, around 90 deaths per day.

Although more transmissible, the current variant of the virus is less deadly, with a death rate in April 2022 about 0.1% compared to a rate of over 3% in April 2021.

However, the number of daily new infections, some of whom will become long COVID cases, is much higher than in 2021.

Although most deaths throughout the pandemic were in people aged over 60, each of those was a shortened life. Thousands of years of life have been lost prematurely because of COVID.

Deaths did not fall evenly. Those born overseas had twice the death rate of Australian born. The death rate in cities was three to four times that in regional areas.

The bungled management of COVID in residential aged care facilities resulted in deaths in aged care accounting for three-quarters of all COVID deaths in 2020.

The residential age care death rates in 2021 (17%) and 2022 (26%) are tragically high.

People living in the poorest communities had death rates three times that in wealthier communities.

For younger people, COVID was a disease which led to disability rather death, although this does not diminish the impact on those who suffered – and might still be suffering – as a result of the infection or long COVID.

Warning signs

Some preventive care was deferred during the pandemic, which could mean some diseases weren’t detected in their early stages, resulting in poorer outcomes.

Endoscopies are procedures where clinicians look inside the body using a long tube with camera attached, sometimes to detect cancer. Rates of endoscopies were down, suggesting some cancers may have been missed.

The rate of Indigenous health checks also took a downturn:

This may mean it will be even harder to close the gap between the health of First Nations Australians and the rest of the population.

The overall pattern about mental health is mixed, with raw numbers suggesting no statistically significant change in long-term patterns.

However, there were upticks of reported psychological distress in early 2022, and so the underlying pattern may not yet be clear.

Still a long way to go

Extended border closures led to stress on those separated from their families, and so too did the state border closures. Overall, however, outcomes from the pandemic have been good so far.

But the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report was released in the same week the 10,000th Australian COVID death was reported. The ongoing deaths from COVID are barely reported in the media and appear to be ignored by policymakers.

The previous prime minister dichotomised potential COVID responses into lockdowns or “living with COVID”. This was never the case.

A more nuanced response – supplementing a drive to increase vaccination rates with mask mandates and density limits when required, and improving ventilation – was always part of the public health response.

Unfortunately, third dose vaccination rates are sitting at around 70% of those eligible, leaving many Australians dangerously exposed to the virus.

There should be a return to the “vaccine-plus” strategy, where we focus on lifting vaccination rates and implementing other public health measures – such as mask mandates or density limits – where required.

Otherwise we risk all the good work done in 2020 and 2021 being completely negated and more unnecessary deaths occurring, especially among the most disadvantaged.


Raina MacIntyre writes:

Australia has just expanded access to a second COVID booster to everyone 30 years and over, while recommending it only for people 50 and over. That means it’s up to people aged 30-49 years to decide whether they would like a second booster, but they will not be actively encouraged.

The promise of COVID vaccines as a means to completely ending the pandemic was short-lived. Just as vaccines matched to the original strain of the virus were being rolled out in late 2020, multiple new variants of concern emerged, with increasing vaccine breakthrough infections.

Vaccines are not as protective against variants such as Omicron and also wane in protection, which is why we have seen continued waves of infection even in highly vaccinated countries. Two doses do not protect against infection with Omicron, especially if you had the Astra Zeneca shot, so high booster rates are essential.

The strong messaging we received in 2021 about being “double-jabbed” being the end of the road, left many people unaware a third dose was essential. Compared with a stunning 95% of people 16 years and over having two doses, only 70% have had three doses. Yet even the protection of a third dose wanes, even against severe infection and death. But this can be restored with a fourth dose.

Some countries, such as the United States, have recommended fourth doses to anyone over 50 for some time, while Australia has had restricted access, until now just for people over 65.

Why we need a fourth shot

Australia has essentially used a vaccine-only strategy to control COVID since late 2021. Masks and other measures such as QR codes have been largely abandoned and testing is expensive – many cannot afford a regular supply of rapid antigen tests, and PCR tests can cost an individual more than $100. Antivirals are only available to restricted groups, unless you can afford $1,200 for a private prescription.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people have died in Australia, the majority within the supposedly “mild” Omicron wave in 2022 when we were given the message the pandemic was over.

Many of these deaths and hospitalisations could have been prevented by using extra, layered measures to reduce transmission. The crippling of the health system, disruption of workforce, schools and airports, and the burden of long COVID are other reasons to try our best to reduce case numbers. Repeated reinfections should also be prevented, as they increase the risk of death.

A fourth dose becomes even more crucial when we have no other plan – no mask mandates, no mandated indoor air quality standards nor universal, affordable access to antivirals. It will save lives and reduce the load on our health system.

The BA.5 Omicron subvariant is now taking over, and has even more “escape” from current vaccines. But a fourth dose will help.

Ideally, we would have vaccines matched for Omicron, but these may not be available in Australia for many months, during which time many more lives will be lost from the BA.4/5 wave. Even the original vaccine will still provide better protection with a fourth dose compared with only three doses.

Could too many vaccines be bad?

Some argue about “original antigenic sin” (or “immune imprinting”) as a problem with repeated doses of COVID vaccines – as in, they think after repeated doses the vaccine’s effectiveness will be reduced. However, this reflects a misinterpretation of what original antigenic sin means – it means the first time you are exposed to a virus or vaccine, the body remembers that first time when it subsequently encounters something similar. But this immune memory can lead to either a blunted or an enhanced response.

The concept arose around influenza, but even that, which has been studied far more than SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID), is not conclusive or necessarily detrimental – and we still recommend repeated flu vaccines every year.

There is no evidence of original antigenic sin being a problem for COVID boosters – studies show significantly better protection from four compared to three doses. In people with weakened immunity, even five doses continued to boost the immune response. When we have better matched boosters, it is likely they too will be offered, but holding out for these for an unknown period of time will result in preventable deaths and chronic illness.

What about younger adults?

ATAGI did not recommend fourth shots for under-30s reportedly because of the low risk of myocarditis following vaccination in young males – but the risk of myocarditis is far higher after COVID infection than after vaccination, and even if that argument held, what about young women?

Omicron causes excess mortality in all adults, even younger ones, so the benefits of expanding access to a fourth dose to everyone 18 years and over would likely outweigh any potential risks.

Health workers miss out yet again, with no specific allowance for them and many being under the age of 30. This will not help the exodus of burnt-out health workers, many of whom got infected in the line of duty.

Meanwhile, we are bracing for a massive wave of BA.4 and 5, predicted to be as bad as the last peak early in 2022. In the absence of other public health measures such as masks, and if a vaccine-only strategy is continued, expanding fourth dose eligibility is the only way to mitigate the next COVID wave.

Much more could be done to mitigate and prevent COVID, by using a “vaccine-plus” strategy of layered measures.


See here for the archive of Croakey’s COVID-19 wrap

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Search by: Categories or tags

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#16nrhc
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#ICEM22
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NAISA22
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#RANZCP2022
#RTP22
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Choosing Wisely National Meeting 2022
Equally Well 2022 Symposium
GiantSteps22
Croakey Professional Services
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#KidneyCareTogether
ACSQHC series
ACSQHC series 2019
ACSQHC series 2020
ACSQHC series 2021
ACSQHC series 2022
CATSINaM 25 Years
Healthdirect Australia series 2019
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
@WePublicHealth2022
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
ICYMI
Inside Story
Journal Watch
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Donor-funded journalism
Donor-funded journalism – 2020
Donor-funded journalism – 2021
Donor-funded journalism – 2022
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2022-23
Federal Budget October 2022
Federal Election 2022
SA election 2022
The Election Wrap (2022)
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
Flooding 2022
Global health
NHS
NSW 2022
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
Aged care
Allied healthcare
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
Health reform
health regulation
Health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
Mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
Nursing and midwifery
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth