Hello. We are removing our masks. We are in the ACT but we are allowed to remove our masks when it’s important that we speak clearly and when we are communicating to people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Hello. My shout-out today is to everybody who has received COVID-19 vaccine and everyone who is preparing to do so when it is their turn. We have now had over 8,500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered to the people of Australia and, as we know, these vaccines are incredibly important in protecting each of us, protecting our loved ones and protecting the general population of Australia from COVID-19.
First question. What is pandemic fatigue and how can I overcome it?
All of us have been experiencing anxiety and worries throughout the 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the Chief Executive Officer of Australia’s National Mental Health Commission, Christine Morgan, who is also the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Suicide Prevention, has talked about pandemic fatigue. So what is it? Well pandemic fatigue is when people are just getting so tired of living with the pandemic and all the restrictions and disruptions to our daily lives. This can have an impact on your mental health and well-being. You may notice that you are feeling more irritable than normal, or may be feeling more anxious, or may have less motivation, or you may feel that things are just getting really hard. Some people experience disruption to their sleep, some people find it just really hard to get going and do the things that they need to do. These feelings are actually normal, but if they last for more than a few weeks, it is important that you seek advice and support, because you may be developing anxiety or depression, and that may need to be treated. What can you do to tackle pandemic fatigue? The first thing is recognising the symptoms in yourself, and to be kind to yourself and to be kind to other people , recognising that everybody may be feeling a little irritable and anxious, everybody in your social circle, everybody who you work with, everybody who you are coming in contact with. So be kind to yourself by doing things each day that you enjoy, take some time out from your schedule just to do things that give you pleasure. And also be kind to others, reaching out to other people, making sure they are OK can actually help you and help your mental health and well-being, as well as giving other people a boost as well. Obviously make sure you are eating a healthy diet, make sure you are doing some exercise each day, which can help you to unwind, make sure that you are doing all you can get a good night’s sleep and get some fresh air, get out in the sunshine and particularly during the winter, make sure you get out during the middle of the day and get a little sunlight on your skin when the days are not cloudy and rainy. You may like to reach out to organisations like Beyond Blue. A reminder about the National COVID-19 Hotline Number for Beyond Blue – 1800 512 348. And you can also go to the National Mental Commission website which is, nationalmentalhealthcommission.gov.au, and read the resources there about pandemic fatigue.
Second question. What kind of questions should I ask if I’m discussing my COVID vaccination with my GP?
Some people are happy just to turn up and receive their vaccination when it is their turn and when they have made a booking. And other people would like to talk about the vaccine before being vaccinated. That is fine. We want to make sure that everybody who receives a COVID-19 vaccine is doing so with informed consent. So you may wish to make some time to talk to your trusted general practitioner or talk to the primary care nurse at your local general practice before you actually receive the vaccine. You may like to go on the health.gov.au website and look at the resources that we have there, particularly the consent form, but also the advice on people who are receiving either Pfizer vaccine or the AstraZeneca vaccine. A reminder about the vaccines. The AstraZeneca vaccine is the preferred vaccine for people aged 60 years and above. The Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for people aged under 59 years of age. But there may be some people aged between 18 and 59 who would like to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine if the Pfizer vaccine is not readily available to them. So these are the sort of things you might like to talk to your GP about. There are also a small number of people aged over 60 with specific contraindications to the AstraZeneca vaccine who may be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. So please talk through with your GP, talk through with the person who is giving you your vaccine. You may like to talk to them about what side effects you may expect to experience in the few days after the vaccine. You may like to talk about what are the things to watch out for in case of the very rare clotting condition that can develop with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and of course you will want to know when you should be coming to get your second dose of the vaccine. It is very important with both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccine that you get two doses to make sure you are fully protected and have sustained protection against COVID-19.
And finally, why does the advice continue to change around the COVID-19 vaccine?
As we have lived through the pandemic over the last 18 months, you will have noticed that advice does change and has been changing over the past 18 months, based on our increasing knowledge about COVID-19, about the new variants which have appeared around the world, about what is happening with the local epidemiology of COVID-19, the outbreaks which we have seen in Australia, particularly the outbreaks in some states and territories over the last couple of weeks, and also our increasing knowledge about each of the vaccines currently available to protect people against COVID-19 in Australia. Our response to COVID-19 in Australia has been based on medical and scientific advice and this has protected the people of Australia from some of the terrible impact that we have seen from the pandemic occurring in many other countries around the world. We have three main bodies which are providing advice to the Australian Government and through the National Cabinet to our states and territories. These are the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the AHPPC, which meets most days and includes the Chief Medical Officers, our Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and also the Chief Health Officers from each of the states and territories, coming together and providing advice to our National Cabinet. We also have our national regulator of medicines and vaccines, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which has carried out the assessments of the vaccines being used in Australia and also the vaccines we may start using over the months ahead. And then we have the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, ATAGI. These are the experts on immunisation, on vaccination, in Australia, and they meet each week and they review the research evidence from around the world and also the real-life experience of what is happening in Australia and in other countries with the vaccines, and again provide their advice. Based on what is happening around the world, based on new evidence coming through from research, based on the advice from each of these expert bodies, some of our guidance and advice may change and so it is important to keep up-to-date with the advice, obviously we do this through communication like this to you directly, we do this through the Australian Government Department of Health website, health.gov.au, and we do it through the messages that go out through the wider media. So please keep up-to-date on what is happening and what we know, and that way we can all work together to keep the people of our country as safe as we can throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for listening today, and a big thank you to Linda, my Auslan interpreter. Thank you.
Top 3 questions
- What is pandemic fatigue and how can I overcome it?
- What kind of questions should I ask if I’m discussing my COVID vaccination with my GP?
- Why does advice continue to change around the COVID-19 vaccine?