Lung Foundation Australia urges all eligible Australians to have the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available over coming months, for their own safety and that of loved ones. With nearly one in three Australians living with a lung condition, many of whom are elderly, a COVID-19 vaccination will keep them safe.
We strongly endorse the Australian Government’s strategy regarding the vaccine roll-out, both for priority groups, such as those living with a lung condition, and the general community. Importantly we acknowledge the urgent need to vaccinate health professionals and front-line workers who have cared for and supported Australians over the past 12 months.
We encourage people to be informed by respected health and medical organisations regarding the approval vaccines and to have faith in the robust regulatory processes which have been undertaken in conjunction with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Australia is in an enviable position of being able to monitor the health and safety data from other countries to inform our government and regulatory processes.
The government announced five phases of priority populations will be administered with the vaccine, with the first two phases including those aged over 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55, and younger adults with an underlying medical condition such as a lung disease.
Professor Christine Jenkins, Lung Foundation chairperson and globally recognised lung disease researcher, said the currently approved vaccines could help save lives and minimise risk as part of the Australian Government’s pandemic control strategy, importantly reducing the likelihood of developing severe COVID-19.
“Medical colleges and the Australian Academy of Science have reassured Australians that the government strategy is based on science and informed by expertise” she said.
The Australian Academy of Science also stressed that both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines were equally effective in preventing severe COVID-19 but would not, on their own, close the door on the pandemic. They can, however, reduce the number of people infected in Australia and prevent severe cases requiring hospitalisation, a situation which has overwhelmed many other countries.
Given people living with lung cancer and chronic lung diseases are at increased risk of severe illness from contracting COVID-19, widespread acceptance and administration of the vaccine is essential to protect our vulnerable community.
The vaccination will help protect individuals and help to build a safer, healthier community for all. However, it is important to remember that receiving the vaccine will not replace COVID safe practices such as social distancing and good hygiene including the use of hand sanitiser, wearing of masks when appropriate and surface cleaning.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, free call Lung Foundation Australia at 1800 654 301 or visit our website to access information and resources.