It’s October 11, and Australia’s most populous state is opening up as vaccination rates increase. We’re still not out of the woods yet, folks, so be careful.
It’s been a hard two years, and one that has changed the very idea of “normal” expediting the idea of remote work, a cashless society, and getting everyone all too familiar with QR codes, as well as a heap of other things. Masks, social distancing, the feeling of being weird around other humans.
The era of pandemic has been hard for so many, not least of those directly affected by covid, but there’s beginning to be some light at the end of the tunnel, as states begin to open up after so many ran out and got vaccinated.
That was the right thing to do: go out, get the jab, and get your body primed to protect itself from a virus that infects without compromise. If you haven’t done so yet, go get it. Walk in and get one, or sign up for an appointment and get a jab that way. Get the jab because it will protect you and your family, reducing the rate of infection. Get the jab because it’s important.
“All that anyone’s being asked here is to get a shot in the arm and put on a mask. Grow up. Get something done,” said George Clooney to The Hollywood Reporter recently.
The vaccine is not a cover-all, though, and won’t stop the virus completely, which means it’s important to be careful, not careless, as our world starts to wake up.
Let’s get some things straight, though: you’ve not been imprisoned and held against your will. You’ve been stuck at home waiting for more people to get vaccinated and for infection rates to fall. That’s it.
The coronavirus is still out there and you’re still at risk. You may well be about to go outside more often, but the things you’ve been doing at home are just as important now as they were for the past several months: mask up, keep your distance, and don’t be careless. The norm of our world won’t return until more people are vaccinated and the virus is beaten down, cut back, and less likely to make a serious impact on our lives like the impact it’s making now.
Ignoring the politics, fast-tracking openings reads as risky, something the Grattan Institute has already commented on, and that was before NSW’s new Premier changed the goalposts again. People in power consistently make decisions without the advice of medical and science experts, something that seems to happen with more regularity given lockdown is such a significant election issue, even if it’s one that’s obviously flawed. Typically when health experts disagree with the politics, there’s a good reason why, and it probably has to do with saving lives and preventing further fallout.
And yet that’s where we are: in Australia, NSW is opening gradually, bit by bit.
It’s important to congratulate the state and its residents on hitting the high vaccination rates it has, because 70 percent fully vaxxed is no small feat.
But it’s also not “70 percent” until around two weeks after that 70% number has been reached, with the first jab giving you protection in about 12 days, while the second taking between 7 and 14 days to start to provide protection. That’s two weeks for that 70 percent value to be worth something, not fresh off the bat when the numbers are declared.
Not everyone can get vaccinated
Keep in mind, however, that not everyone can get vaccinated, and you can unwittingly bring covid home.
Kids under the age of 12 in Australia can’t get vaccinated, babies clearly can’t get vaccinated, and immune compromised individuals probably can’t get vaccinated, either.
If you live with any of those individuals, you need to be aware that while the vaccine might limit your chances of getting covid, you can still bring covid home and give it to those people who cannot get vaccinated. You can be a carrier to covid and end up giving it to people who can’t be afforded that protection even if you yourself are vaccinated.
Vaccination helps, but it doesn’t guarantee protection
And even if you’re vaccinated, you can still get covid. It might not hit you quite as hard, but it can still take you out, and you may end up getting a condition known as “long covid”.
We really have no idea what long covid even means, either. At the moment, it’s a foggy brain, no sense of smell or taste, aches and pains, and an ongoing feeling of frustration, but it’s entirely possible that long covid could include fertility problems and lifelong health issues as time wears on.
The vaccine is a form of protection, but much like how a seatbelt can save your life, it also might not. Seatbelts can protect you from flying off the seat and crashing through the front window of your car, but depending on the severity of the crash, you could still be in serious harm.
The covid vaccine is a little like that. Regardless of which covid vaccine you get, it could save your life, reduce the severity of symptoms, and help keep you out of the ICU.
But even if you’re vaccinated, you could still get covid, and you don’t have to look hard to find the stories, each one as heartbreaking and difficult to read as the other. Michael Smith at the AFR is double vaxxed and got covid, and he’s one case like it. There are stories in Ireland, from the US, and others found in Australia, as well, with the ABC noting that around 12 percent of deaths in NSW have been with fully vaccinated individuals.
Don’t be careless
It’s one more reason why it’s important to be careful, not careless. Be covid careful, not covid careless.
Keep doing the right thing. Use your phone to check in with the QR codes, download the vaccination certificate to your phone, show it to people, and keep wearing a mask.
Life hasn’t quite returned to normal just yet, especially if you have young kids.
If you have young children who can’t get a vaccination, the risk is still high, and you only have to look at the problems in the US to really see why. As it is, scientists and researchers are exploring whether long covid affects kids, but the answer is we don’t really know. With covid able to affect fertility in adults particularly in regards to erectile disorders, there’s a possibility that we won’t know what a covid infection means for children until they’re much, much older.
That makes it important for families to keep taking this thing seriously, because it could be your child’s life at risk until there’s a layer of protection for them.
Lockdown could return
Or it could even be your own, because remember, lockdown could return.
While the federal government announces plans to reopen the country’s borders bizarrely before people within its own borders can travel to other states inside its own, numbers could always increase again and see lockdowns return and protection measures reintroduced.
These all act as a bit of forewarning, telling us all to be cautious. With lockdowns being cut off at 70 percent — some ten below overseas dramas — it’s a sign that you’ll still want to be careful and cautious, and not overly confident and careless.
Despite the tone of this story, we’re not telling you to stay in. We’re not telling you that it’s all doom and gloom, and that the world will never recover. But today when the country opens up again, things aren’t perfect, and if we treat it like it is, we’re doomed to repeat things the same way again.