The COVID-19 threat to our local community became more real last week when cases emerged in a number of locations in the Cessnock local government area. Given our relatively low vaccination rate, this is concerning.
The only pathway out of this mess is mass vaccination. Yet too many of our residents still can’t access the vaccines they need. The root cause of this is the failure of the Federal Government to secure more vaccines and a greater variety of vaccine products 18 months ago.
Yes, people in our capital cities are now being vaccinated quickly but people who live in the regions continue to face hurdles. There is plenty of AstraZeneca around and our hospitals, GPs, and chemists are doing a great job rolling out the program. But AstraZeneca is not the recommended vaccine for young people or for those with certain underlying health issues.
We are not unaware of the crisis in Sydney and we are sympathetic. But today’s crisis in Sydney could be our crisis tomorrow. When Sydney finally opens up, our visitors will return. That will be a great thing. But people working in retail and hospitality – sectors full of young people – will be at risk if they are not vaccinated. Sensible planning would include a strategy to avoid that threat, but we are not receiving our share of vaccines.
Our second challenge is vaccine hesitancy. It is not an irrational thing to be wary of vaccines which have been so recently developed. But it is rational to follow the advice of the health experts. I received the AstraZeneca vaccine because that’s the right decision for me and it’s the right decision for my community. The risk involved in receiving the jab is minuscule. But the risk of becoming very sick with the Delta strain of COVID-19 is significant.
More particularly, I know that if I was unvaccinated, I’m a threat to others. I’m also a threat to our economy. The NSW Government will not give us back our freedoms, they will not re-open our shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants, and other businesses, until the virus is suppressed. That will require mass vaccination.
Please, listen to your GP, not the Craig Kelly’s or Pauline Hanson’s of the world. If you are advised AstraZeneca is safe for you, please book in to have the jab. Meanwhile, I’ll keep fighting for more Pfizer vaccines.
To those writing to me about their “freedoms”, “Constitutional rights”, and “human rights”, let me say this. It is your right not to be vaccinated. But be in no doubt the government has the power to deny you other rights.
More particularly, business is not waiting for the government. Many are already indicating their venues will not be open to the unvaccinated. Some are already mandating vaccination for their employees. I’ve no doubt that if it becomes apparent, they need changes to the law to do so, and in the end governments will respond. But they’ll need to first make sure that everyone who wants a jab can secure the vaccine product suitable for them.
There is something else we need if we are to restore our freedoms. The Federal Government needs to provide state governments with some form of guarantee that if their hospitals become overwhelmed, assistance from Canberra will be forthcoming.
Stay safe everyone, and please, if your GP says it’s safe to do so, get your jab.