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Message from the Publisher #021 – Educate and promote vaccination to CALD communities

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Educate and promote vaccination to CALD communities

What is a Covid normal society? One thing we are certain. It must start from the vaccination program which brings hope that all Australians will be protected. The transition from a state of threat to a state of safety (Covid-safe) will take time and that is the Covid normal that we must be prepared for, probably for the year ahead.

Professor Brendan Murphy, Secretary of Department of Health had predicted that the border of Australia will not be open to international travellers until 2022, as vaccines may not slow down the spread of the virus. Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly echoed the same concern. However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the government would do weekly review and he did not rule out an earlier opening of the border.

 

TGA has provisionally approved the use of Pfizer vaccine in Australia and the vaccination program will start in a few weeks. Quarantine and health professionals are in the priority list of those to be vaccinated followed by people over 70. Prime Minister Morrison has not put vaccination as mandatory for aged-care workers yet. But businesses are said to be free to supply services only to vaccinated people. How vaccination will change Australia is still unknown, but we know that is normal – Covid-Normal.

The world production rate of vaccines is not as good as expected and countries like the US, UK and other European countries will take quite a long while to be protected by vaccination. Australia which is not under great infection probably will be difficult to get a big share of the vaccines. At least until in late March after the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is produced locally, Australia will not have a reliable and sustainable supply.

There is some concern that Covid misinformation especially that on safety and efficacy of vaccine will affect the rate of adoption of vaccination. People exposed in Covid misinformation may be vulnerable in choosing not to take up vaccination, especially CALD communities which have little trust towards government. There is a need for the government to promote Covid vaccination, especially among ethnic minorities.

We urge the various governments in Australia to educate and promote vaccination programs to CALD communities in order that they can receive timely vaccination.

 

Raymond Chow
Publisher, BlessingCALD

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Message from the Publisher

Message from the Publisher #026 – Report card for the first week

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Report card for the first week

The Australian Covid-19 vaccination program has started on 22 February. It was expected that 60,000 Australians would have received the vaccine by end of February. In reality, 33702 people had received the vaccine which was about 53% of the 63140 doses allocated for the first week of the campaign.

On 24 February, an untrained doctor was found giving 4 times the scheduled dosage to two seniors in an aged cared facility in Queensland. On 26 February, it was confirmed that 25 virals (over 120 doses) of unused vaccine had to be disposed of as the aged care facility could not confirm they were stored at the required temperature. A 31 million campaign has started to combat the increasing misinformation emerging around vaccinations. And the Home Affairs Department confirmed that a “myth busting” unit has been established to work with the Health Department to counteract misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine.

The first week of the delivery of the vaccination program was not up to standard.

There was ample time for the federal and state governments to work out the delivery schedule and provided training for the people involved. If we have learned from overseas experience in delivering the vaccination program, we should be better prepared.

CALD leaders have suggested that special consideration to the delivery of the vaccine to the migrant communities should be made as they were groups with little government information and exposed to intense misinformation from various sources. For these communities to gain trust to receive the vaccine, CALD community groups and their leaders should be invited to participate and setting role models.

It is clear that until a majority of Australians have received the vaccine, society will not be going back to normal. The various government authorities should learn from this first week of operation that they should spend greater efforts to listen to opinions rather than following a bureaucratic protocol.

 

Raymond Chow,  Publisher

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Message from the Publisher

Message from the Publisher #025 – A new stage of the fight with COVID19

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A new stage of the fight with Covid-19

Last week marked a new stage of our fight with Covid-19.

In the US, the death toll by Covid-19 exceeded 500,000 and nearly 2.5 million died in the whole world. The number of infected totalled more than 112 million. Fortunately, the daily number of newly infected has gone down from a peak of 850,000 to 300,000. It is not sure whether this is resulted from the northern hemisphere becoming warmer after a cold winter, or the vaccination program started in the US and many European countries. But at least this is a good sign for the whole world.

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received the vaccine with a group of 20 including aged care facility residents, aged worker, health worker, and defence personnel. Chief medical officer Paul Kelly and Chief Nursing Officer Alison Mcmillan as decision-makers of this vaccination program also took the vaccine. The government is trying to build up trust in the public about the safety of the vaccination program.

Yes, vaccines are kept at minus 70 degrees and handling of these vaccines becomes a challenge. Doctors and health personnel need to be trained to work with special arrangements to assure that the vaccines would be stored and handled in the proper way. It is hoped that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which has been approved to be used and produced locally will be an easier-managed vaccine to be used.

In last week, in the fight against the to-be-installed law by the federal government to force technology companies to pay news provider in sharing the news, Facebook has banned many government websites to post their information resulting in that important Covid-19 information not accessible on Facebook. Australians protested vigorously and the image of Facebook tarnished in this foolish action. A group of federal MPs with medical background had urged the Australians not to trust Covid-19 information received from Facebook since the official information was blocked.

We believe that Facebook should observe it has corporate social responsibility toward the society that has used its service.

Blessings!

Raymond Chow
Publisher, BlessingCALD

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Message from the Publisher

Message from the Publisher #024 – Victoria undergoes a 5-Day snap lockdown

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Victoria undergoes a 5-Day snap lockdown

Happy Lunar New Year!

Many from the Asian cultures in Australia celebrated the Lunar New Year!

Unfortunately, Victorians would stay at home as a 5-day snap lockdown was announced on the first day of the Lunar New Year on 12 February. Up to 16 cases from the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn Hotel cluster with the UK strain of Covid-19 spread with tremendous speed had resulted in this lockdown. With three community transmitted cases in Auckland on Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced a three days stage three lockdown in Auckland and a stage 2 lockdown in other parts of New Zealand. As a result, arrivals from New Zealand to Australia would need to undergo 14 days of quarantine and the trans-Tasman travel bubble paused.

 

 

Some in Victoria blamed the Andrews government for the lockdown at one of the busiest weekends of the whole year leading to massive cancellation of bookings on Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year. Restaurateurs complained of the great loss of pre-ordered food stock at last minutes and asked for compensation. Politicians claimed that this was a result of an ineffective contact tracing system and poorly designed and never fixed hotel quarantine. Many compared to measures imposed by Queensland and New South Wales governments in similar situations and concluded that Victorians suffered from harsh government policy instead.

The precautionary approach of the Victorian government is similar to that adopted in New Zealand which aimed at total elimination of the virus. However, the national strategy of Australia goes for suppression rather than elimination. I believe and hope that the current approach will keep Victoria clean and beneficial to Victorians. However, the Victorian government should provide greater support so that Victorians can endure the extra pain imposed by the government.

Yes, we support taking greater risks in holding the Covidsafe Australian Open at a Covid normal society at this moment. We believe this is beneficial to Victoria and Australia. However, the cost should not be born only by Victorians.

 

Raymond Chow
Publisher, BlessingCALD

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