Mandatory vaccination, the need for a ‘vaccines plus’ exit from lockdown, and compliance fatigue were among the topics addressed by Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC on Channel 7’s Weekend Sunrise this morning.
Monique Wright:Professor Brendan Crabb heads the Burnet Institute, which is advising Victoria on its roadmap. Professor, mandating vaccinations for a million people, that’s a big call, talk us through why you recommended it. And should other states be doing it?
Professor Brendan Crabb: A big call is exactly the word I was going to use. Good morning Monique. Good morning, everybody. Well, we’re facing two huge problems in Victoria that every Victorian knows we’re facing. One is a growing very real COVID epidemic. It’s impacting so many in our community and so many in our hospitals. And the other is lockdown that we are so familiar with, and it’s also devastating our community.
And the answer out of both of those is to get vaccinated.
Our modeling shows that there’s some points, there’s some communities where we can make a really big difference, and authorised workers is one of those. If we got, you know, compliance, vaccination rates up really high in some of these groups, then we make a big difference to both the COVID epidemic and to the chances of getting out of lockdown soon. So, we didn’t recommend mandating, that’s a government decision, but we certainly pointed out you could make a lot of difference in that space. I would just say to everyone, though, don’t think if you’re not an authorised worker, there’s any less compulsion to get vaccinated.
Please get vaccinated, it is the answer. Don’t be one of those people in hospital, struggling to breathe, wondering if they’re going to go onto a ventilator, just wishing like crazy they’d got vaccinated. Don’t be one of those people.
MW:All states have signed up to a national roadmap, and yet every state seems to have its own roadmap. Do you see that as being an issue?
BC: I think every state is different. We’ve got a federation, we’ve got some states that have no COVID at all, of course. We’ve got some with tiny outbreaks - Queensland at the moment, and we’ve got two with very large outbreaks. So you know, it’s, it’s natural for a number of reasons why there’s differences in each state. But broadly speaking, we’re all trying to do the same thing. We’re looking for a high vaccine exit, from lockdown from the pain of COVID with, and most importantly, more than just vaccination.
As I mentioned, vaccines are the backbone of the response, but they’re not all we’re going to need. We’re going to need to do things that are non disruptive, that stay with us, our mask-wearing and improved mask-wearing, and most importantly, getting tested.
Our modelling shows that if we keep up with testing, isolating and quarantining those who are positive, even those who are vaccinated, and we’re very worried about the vaccinated group, but if we keep up with those and get vaccinated, we we greatly increase the chances of turning this epidemic around in the states where there’s a lot of COVID and of getting out of lockdown, and pretty much the pathway is the same in both states.
MW:Okay, so in terms of moving forward, I assume, Professor, you’re double vaccinated? Are you?
BC: Indeed, yes.
MW:So how do you live your life? How careful are you out there? Do you set an example for the rest of us that are double vaccinated and how we should be living?
BC: Yeah, it’s a really good question, Monique. I do live my life exactly as I would if I was not vaccinated, at least I think I do. I mean, I’m concerned that there’s a subconscious in all of us, including me, that says, you know, and I do I feel good that I’m doubly vaccinated. I know that nearly everybody in hospital is not vaccinated or is only partially vaccinated. Nearly everybody, that’s true all over the world.
So I know I have this amazing protection. But I also know that as a vaccinated person, I can transmit the virus that makes those around me vulnerable.
And you know, I work in this space, I’m acutely aware of that. And so I don’t change how I behave. I don’t change my compliance with stay-at-home orders or with mask-wearing or with getting tested and QR coding and so on. But I think I’m just human. We all can get a bit lax about that.
But one of the best things we can do, apart from getting vaccinated is to keep complying as hard as that is for a little while yet because that’s going to get us out of lockdown.
MW:Professor Brendan Crabb, your insights are always invaluable. We really appreciate your time. Thank you.
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