COVID-19

Millions of Aussie Covid jabs going to waste

Across the country, the deaths of 300 people each week are being linked to Covid-19, with the virus on track to be our second biggest killer after heart disease this year.Yet government data shows there are 16 million Covid jabs “on hand and not used” with many likely to be approaching their use by date -30 days after thawing.Two in three Australians have not had their essential third Covid jab and half those aged over 65 or in nursing homes have not had their fourth dose even though it slashes their risk of infection in half.It is not just the Covid jab people are shunning, fewer than half of all Aussies have had their flu jab this year even though governments have made it free for everybody for the first time.New Health Minister Mark Butler has asked for action to be stepped up in delivering the fourth Covid jab in nursing homes.It comes as new data shows hospitals are overwhelmed as a quadruple whammy of the flu, Covid, RSV virus affecting young children and metapneumovirus clogs beds and thousands of hospital staff are off work due to their own viral illnesses.With record ambulance call-outs, two in three patients with life threatening conditions are waiting more than 15 minutes for help and hospital emergency departments are overwhelmed.Experts are demanding action from governments including a better advertising campaign to encourage people to have their vaccinations.Immunisation Coalition’s CEO Kim Sampson said the failure of so many people to get their third jab was “a real problem” and he said “we need action”.As a matter of urgency the Coalition wants state and federal leaders to discuss what can be done to improve vaccination uptake at their meeting on Friday.Australians must understand that four months after a second Covid jab immunity to the virus begins to wane and the effect is even greater in those aged over 65 because their immune systems are not as robust, Mr Sampson said.“You need to get that third dose, for full immunity to be achieved,” Mr Sampson said.Australians who think that getting Covid will protect them are wrong.A recent Swedish study found two doses of vaccine provided 54 per cent protection against hospitalisation with Omicron but that increased to 80 per cent following the third dose.The latest research shows catching Covid is not as effective as a vaccine in preventing infection or serious illness from Covid.Imperial College of London research has found people who caught Covid in 2020 got no immunity boost if they then went on to catch Omicron.And, more disturbing, an Omicron infection didn’t stop you catching Omicron a second time.Vaccine stocks are carefully managed to minimise wastage and ensure all doses are distributed efficiently and effectively, the Department of Health said.As of June 5 one in every ten doses of the Covid vaccines Australia has ordered have gone to waste and 40 million doses have been donated by Australia doses to countries in the Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asia.Immunisation Coalition’s Professor Robert Booy said hybrid immunity – a combination of being vaccinated is the strongest type of immunity you can get.“I’m not saying get the disease, but what I am saying is if you do have disease, you will still benefit from the additional vaccination,” he said..Melbourne GP Dr Mukesh Haikerwal said his practice is seeing 80-90 patients a day “forty of them have either flu, RSV or Covid every day so the need for vaccination is huge,” he said.“We’ve dropped the ball and we have a minibus load of people are dying every day in Victoria and a 737 going down every week in Australia,” he said.A spokesperson for Health Minister Mark Butler said “The Albanese Government is committed to increasing booster update and working with states and territories to protect the health of Australians”.

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