The rate of spread of COVID has started to accelerate in 2022 due to new sub-variants of Omicron, which are estimated to 40 percent more transmissible than the first variant of Omicron.
As the country heads into a very cold winter where experts warn of an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, how can you protect yourself during the coldest winter months?
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said the big answer to this problem for vulnerable people, such as those aged 65 and over and those living in residential care facilities elderly, is to get a winter booster to reduce severe symptoms if you get COVID-19[FEMININE.
Eligibility for the fourth dose of the vaccine is also extended to a further 7.4 million Australians, including people aged 30 to 50, from July 11.
Minister Butler said: “We are in the early stages of a third Omicron wave and our government is absolutely committed to ensuring that as many people as possible are protected by the vaccine.
“My message to everyone living in Australia aged 50 and over is to ensure you have the best protection against COVID-19 by getting a fourth dose as soon as possible.”
Who is eligible?
Obtaining a winter booster is recommended and encouraged for:
- People aged 50 and over
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
- Residents of care facilities for the aged or persons with disabilities
- Severely immunocompromised people
- People who live with a medical condition that increases their risk of serious symptoms or illnesses from COVID-19
- People with disabilities who have significant or complex care needs or comorbidities that increase the risk of poor outcomes
Access the winter booster
If you recently had a COVID-19 infection of any variant, you should still receive your winter booster.
However, the Ministry of Health recommends waiting three months to get vaccinated after a COVID infection or waiting four months after a previous booster dose of COVID-19.
If you live in a senior care facility, you may be able to get a winter booster with a handy clinic program, which is voluntary.
For those in the community, you can use the COVID-19 clinic search to find the nearest vaccination clinic.
You can also use the new Easy Vaccine Access (EVA) service to book a vaccination appointment by contacting 0481 611 382. This is a call back service which operates from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week. seven.
Just text “Hey Eva” to the number above and provide your name, best date and time for a vaccination, contact number and preferred language.
How will another reminder help?
Getting a winter booster will help prepare your immune system to deal with COVID-19.
A recall can provide protection against:
- Being infected with the COVID-19 virus
- Serious illness and symptoms
- die from the virus
A National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) study found that people aged 70 and older had a significant reduction in hospitalizations and deaths of COVID-19 if they had received a third dose of the vaccine. This significant advantage was also recorded for those aged 40 to 69.
NCIRS lead author and Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, Bette Liu, says: “In Australia, approximately 70% of the eligible population has received a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our study shows that optimal protection occurs when vaccine recommendations are followed; I urge the 30% who have not yet received a third dose to do so as soon as possible.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 and vaccination against other respiratory viruses such as influenza are particularly important in reducing the burden on the healthcare system, as we see an increase in these viral respiratory infections over the winter. ”
Other winter protection
If you want to add another layer of protection to your winter, now may also be a great time to get vaccinated against this year’s flu strain.
The Vaccine Coalition (IC) was thrilled to see some states offering free flu shots for all as current flu cases rise and hospital admissions for flu increase.
“Ideally, we should have the whole country working in unison to fight the flu in 2022,” said Kim Sampson, IC’s president and chief executive officer (CEO).
“In most parts of Australia we are experiencing a severe flu season, which has arrived early but is expected to last for many months to come.
“However, it’s not too late to get vaccinated and we have plenty of vaccines available, so my suggestion is to get vaccinated now, while it’s free, to avoid getting infected with the flu this year. .”
Many places that offer vaccinations, such as medical clinics or pharmacies, now offer double vaccination points to get you vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
Other protections against illness include hand hygiene, protective gear (like masks), and social distancing.
You can find out more in our article “Protecting yourself from winter diseases”.