Corona Chronicles #6 – Brisbane Lockdown & Vaccine Rollout

April 5, 2021

Corona Chronicles time … but before you read on, please note that I am not a medical professional and have no medical expertise. This post is written through the eyes of a middle aged citizen of Brisbane, Australia. If you want expert advice in relation to Covid-19 in any way at all, please seek it from appropriate qualified health professionals.

Most Australians would already know the state of play for Coronavirus here in Australia, so these posts are not so much to ‘inform’, though they might do that for some, particularly people from other countries that read this who may otherwise have not been aware of how things are in Australia. These Corona Chronicles post are purely to capture moments of time during this pandemic through the eyes of a middle-aged Aussie woman (me), for the future.

BRISBANE LOCKDOWN #3

So much has happened since my last post of this series – Corona Chronicles #5 – Double Donuts that it’s impossible to cover every detail.  However, I can say that at the time of typing this Brisbane is at the tail end of its 3rd lockdown. The first Brisbane lockdown was March/April/May 2020 and there was a much shorter second 3 day lockdown in January 2021.  With this third lockdown, originally it was to be 3 days from 5pm Monday 29 March until 5pm Thursday 1 April but in a press conference at 9am this morning (Thursday 1 April) it was announced the lockdown would end at midday today with some restrictions remaining in place for a further 14 days (details below or you can view this document here).

This third lockdown is due to two developing clusters, both of which began at the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital. The first cluster links to a doctor who tested positive in early March. He contracted the virus from a patient – a Covid positive returned traveller. The second cluster is linked to a nurse who also works at the PA Hospital. Genome testing shows that her strain of the virus matches that of a patient at the PA hospital too but it is unknown if she actually had any contact with that patient or how she might have contracted the virus from him. Both clusters are the highly infectious UK strain. There have been several new cases each day since as these two people were out in the community for several days before knowing they were Covid positive. At the time of typing this the two clusters total around 16 cases. The good thing is that they are all linked. It’s when you get an unlinked case that there is more cause for concern.  The contact tracing around these clusters has been fantastic and the list continually grows. Here’s the current Queensland contract tracing alerts list.  As you’ll see it extends beyond Greater Brisbane to the Gold Coast, Caboolture, Burpengary, Gladstone, etc.  The second cluster (starting with the nurse) grew from a hens party that was held at Byron Bay and there has been an additional locally acquired case detected from that event which is a now a NSW case.  This has led to the cancellation of the Byron Bay Bluesfest – an Australian musical festival.

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There’s also been several other outbreaks and lockdowns across Australia since the last post but generally things have been pretty good here in Australia as compared to other parts of the world. Because of this, people have become somewhat complacent and social distancing and regular hand hygiene practices have lapsed. It’s understandable as people are suffering ‘pandemic fatigue’ but the vaccination rollout provides a sense of there being ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ so hopefully the positive from these latest clusters will be a bit of shake up and reminder to people to get back into the habit of safe practices, knowing that hopefully things will be better soon.

AUSTRALIA’ S VACCINATION ROLLOUT HAS BEGUN

Positive news is that vaccinations are finally starting to roll out here in Australia. Here’s where you can see Australia’s COVID-19 National Vaccine Rollout Strategy.  

  • Phase 1a.  Frontline health care workers, Quarantine & Border staff, and Residential aged care and disability residents and staff – have been first cab off the rank and are being given the Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine. This is still ongoing but hopefully will be completed soon!
  • Phase 1b. The rest of us will be given the Oxford/Astrazenica Vaccine. Phase 1b has started and is still ongoing. It is mostly for over 70’s, critical workers, and people with underlying conditions (and more – refer to the strategy link above). I fit into this category due to my immune deficiency and I am booked for my first shot in early May.  My mother is also booked in for her first shot in May (about 8 days after mine).
  • Phase 2a. This phase has not commenced yet. It is for adults over 50, indigenous Australians, and other high risk workers.
  • Phase 2b. This phase has not yet commenced and will be for the balance of the adult population.
  • Phase 3. This phase has not yet commenced and will be for any Australians that are under the age of 18 – if it is recommended.

Everyone is going to need a second vaccination to be covered. I believe that with the Pfizer shots the second one is to be 21 days after the first.  With the Astrazenica Vaccine the second shot has to be 12 weeks after the first one. One week after your second shot you are then meant to be covered.

So – if I have my first shot on 5 May and my second shot on 28 July – I will finally be covered by 4 August.  This goes to show that as I’m in the 1B group which has only just started and there are 3 more groups after that one, it’s going to take quite a while before the bulk of Australians are fully vaccinated.

The original target by the Australian Government was to start vaccinations in late February with a target of vaccinating all Australian adults by October. Vaccinating some 20 million adult Australians with two doses each in around eight months is an immense logistical challenge and as it turns out is not going to be possible. Australia needs to vaccinate 200,000 people every day to reach the goal of all adult Australians being able to get their FIRST vaccine dose by the end of October. So far the daily target of 200,000 vaccinations has proved to be a challenge but we will remain optimistic. Now that Australia is producing the Astrazenica vaccine on our own shores and some confusions and logistical challenges have started to be identified and ironed out things should look up!  

It turns out that the nurse at the beginning of Brisbane’s second outbreak cluster was unvaccinated. She’d only recently returned from leave and hadn’t yet had her vaccination. This has led to a new rule that only medical staff that have had at least their first vaccination can treat Covid patients. It has been pointed out though that this rule couldn’t have been in place earlier as not enough staff had been vaccinated for it to be practical.  Let’s just say though that I think this outbreak has prompted a lot more effort into ramping up and completing the 1a group vaccinations!

Have you had a Covid-19 Vaccine yet?  Booked for one?  If you’ve had it – how did you go? 

Ciao for now,

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24 Comments

  • Reply Jennifer Jones April 5, 2021 at 7:42 am

    I’m pleased kick down didn’t last too long for you. I was thinking it could a safe time to visit my family on the Sunshine Coast when this out break occurred. It will be a while now until I feel ok about travelling. Hopefully it’s not long until we are all vaccinated.

    • Reply Min April 5, 2021 at 1:46 pm

      I was amazed it ended after the 3 days. I was sure it would be extended when there were new cases each day. Thankfully the community acquired cases stopped and all seems ok. It does affect travel confidence though doesn’t it?!

  • Reply Natalie April 5, 2021 at 9:03 am

    Hi Min, Good to hear vaccination is underway in Australia and you have your first vaccine appointment in early May. In Toronto, the age eligibility was just updated on Thursday before Easter so I’m now eligible to sign up for my first vaccine appointment. This is about 4 months earlier than initially planned so it’s good news and shows how vaccination rollout is ramped up here. #lifethisweek

    • Reply Min April 5, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      Great news for you Natalie! I think the vaccination rollout here in Australia should start to improve soon. Apart from some logistical hiccups the main problem has been lack of supply. Now that we’re making Astrazeneca here in Australia that problem should improve greatly.

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au April 5, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Min – these small outbreaks wreak havoc everywhere – my neighbour here in semi-rural WA is in 14 day quarantine – being monitored daily – because she visited Qld for a few days to see her mum. She was nowhere near the outbreak area, but still has to quarantine at home for 2wks. She’s going a little bit stir crazy – meanwhile her husband (who shares the house with her but didn’t go to Qld) is still going to work, shopping, dog walking etc – so the whole thing just seems out of kilter.

    We won’t be rushing in to get vaccinated – I’ll be waiting to see how it goes for a while yet – we’re not travelling anywhere or exposed at all, and I’m not prepared to risk the possible side effects just yet – I’ll wait til it’s more refined and trialed before putting my arm out!

    • Reply Min April 5, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Leanne – yes they do wreak havoc as you never know when one might happen. For this reason I tend to stick close to home or at least in my own state (though we went over the border into NSW on a day trip when we were down the Gold Coast recently). I understand your caution with regards to the vaccine. Sadly, I can’t afford that luxury (though I’d like to wait it out a bit longer) because of my immune deficiency and also because I have three members of my household that are back and forth to the city for work and this puts me at a higher risk than I’d like. I also experienced 2 months very sick with pneumonia in late 2019 and don’t want to be that ill or worse again if I can help it. So – I’ve just gotta have faith and get it done and hope for the best. Hope you have a great week!

  • Reply Vanessa April 5, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    Given my health issues in the past year, but particularly this year, I asked my GP when I could get the vaccine. Unfortunately despite having many signs of “things”, I don’t hold a formal diagnosis so I am in the general catch all category, which I’m not particularly happy about given the hugeness of the place I work and the amount of time I spend on public transport. I’m actually kind of happy for the lockdowns when we have them because a) I’m all for a very conservative and protecting approach to make sure we don’t end up like other countries and b) a little of what you said – people have a very “oh it’s over” approach. Just before this lockdown someone was cramming me and being rude and pushy so I told them to back off and socially distance and I got laughed at with a “we don’t have that here anymore”.

    • Reply Min April 5, 2021 at 1:54 pm

      Sorry you can’t get the vaccine earlier Vanessa. I understand your concerns. I have the same ones. I’m not on the public transport or in the city myself but three in my household are and so therefore bring any bugs they catch back to me. Hopefully the vaccine rollout will ramp up and progress much more quickly soon. They’re saying everyone should’ve had at least their 1st shot by end of October. We shall see!

  • Reply Debbie Harris April 5, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    Such a good recap on things Min. I haven’t had my vaccination yet, I’ll be in the same group as you, but my daughter who has an underlying condition had her first shot a few weeks ago. I’m wondering when overseas travel will start up again, and what the rules will be. I don’t think it will be anytime soon!

    • Reply Min April 6, 2021 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Deb. I don’t think overseas travel will be back any time soon either – at least not until next year and I doubt we’ll be able to travel unless we’ve had the Covid vacs! I’m so glad your daughter has had her first shot and hopefully you’ll have yours soon too.

  • Reply Sanch @ Sanch Writes April 5, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    Snap lockdowns are so stressful! I know each state is doing its own thing but I’m also grateful for how NSW is handling it by trying to not have those snap lockdowns. I am in the 1B category being an allied health professional but haven’t had my vaccine yet. Just need a letter from work. Hope all goes well with yours!

    • Reply Min April 6, 2021 at 2:45 pm

      Hopefully there will be less and less and maybe even no more lockdowns once more people are vaccinated etc. Hope you have your shot soon Sanch & thank you – I hope it all goes well for us all!

  • Reply Christina Henry April 6, 2021 at 4:50 am

    I’m on 1b as I’m a nurse. I had my 1st vaccine a couple of weeks ago and my 2nd is next week. I had a headache and sore throat for a few days but nothing dramatic. Other people have had a really sore arm from it. I’m looking forward to being fully vaccinated

    • Reply Min April 6, 2021 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks so much for the feedback on how you went with your vaccine Christina. I can handle a short term headache and sore throat if thats what I get. You’ll be fully vaccinated very soon – what a relief that will be!

  • Reply Laurie April 6, 2021 at 7:40 am

    I am glad to read that you are scheduled for your first vaccine shot. Australia has handled the pandemic so much better than the US did. I think at last we are on the path to recovery. I got my first shot (Pfizer) last Saturday and will get my second shot at the end of this month. I should be fully immunized by May 13.

    • Reply Min April 6, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Laurie. We’ve done better with the pandemic than the US that’s for sure but you’re doing much better over there with the vaccine rollout! We’re slow to get going with it and have had logistical and supply issues. We only secured a small amount of Pfizer – enough to vaccinate our 1a group. The rest is Astrazenica – a supply from overseas first up and the rest will be made here. You’ll be fully vaccinated soon which will be such a relief for you!

  • Reply Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid April 6, 2021 at 8:51 am

    I think Australia is the poster child for Covid but I do think it’s come at a cost – living in a gilded cage and returning Australians can’t get in and it’s almost impossible to leave, even for life or death situations. I think it’s made us a bit paranoid rather than complacent because every time there’s a case, there seems to be panic and a knee jerk lockdown. All the UK approach to Covid was nothing short of shambolic, they have really aced the vaccination rollout, I wish our government could take a leaf out of their book! I know so many people now in the UK that have had one or both of their jabs. Fingers crossed it happens here soon!

    • Reply Min April 6, 2021 at 2:54 pm

      Hi Sammie – yes I do think there is a bit of paranoia and fear but understandable I guess when you see what’s been happening overseas. The UK most certainly has aced the vaccination rollout. I wish we could say the same! I’m hopeful things will improve here soon?

  • Reply Michele Somerville April 6, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Hi Min, thanks for this post. I haven’t followed all of them, but I am going to share this on my personal facebook page. Sometimes, (not my friends, denial, snarky) but sometimes people in the US sound as though we are the only ones affected. I live in Pennsylvania. My husband and I got our first shots (Moderna) almost two weeks ago and are scheduled for our second shot on April 22nd. Thanks for writing and stay well, best and blessings, Michele

    • Reply Min April 6, 2021 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Michele – thanks for sharing this post! I’m so pleased you’ve had your first shot and having your 2nd soon! It will be such a relief to be fully vaccinated. Many of us over here have quite a wait yet before we can say the same. With Astrazenica you have to wait 12 weeks between shots which makes it quite a long process to get yourself covered. Good luck for your second shot and I hope you stay well too!

  • Reply Denyse Whelan April 7, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    You will be glad to have written these posts Min as they will continue to tell your story at this time.

    We both had our Astra Zeneca vax just over two weeks ago and had no side effects. Our GP who would be in his 40s had a terrible 36 hours.

    Right now, however, I am incredibly watchful of what is happening via the Australian government and its many stuff ups…and hope, that as they get their act together more people can have access to the vaccine. Trouble is, the PM is promising what is not being delivered (at my time of writing)

    We are also getting our flu vax this week, 2 weeks minimum after Covid.

    Always delighted to see your posts in Life This Week Link up. Thanks for joining in. Looking forward to next week, when we may, should we choose, Share Our Snaps (photos!). Denyse.

    • Reply Min April 8, 2021 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks Denyse – that’s the plan with these posts. I’m hopeful they’ll capture moments during this time that in the future I may forget about. I’m so glad you and hubby have had no side effects with the Astrazenica. I’ve heard it’s mostly younger people (under 55’s) that do get the side effects because they have stronger immune systems and therefore a stronger immune response. Like you I’m sick of all the stuff ups and arguing over the vaccine rollout that we’re seeing play out on the news. I just want them to stop the arguing and finger pointing and get on with it. Sigh! I hope your second shot and flu vac go well!

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan April 11, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    You are in the home stretch now. I think you will be able to take a deep breath once you and your mom get vaccinated. Although, 12 weeks is a long time between numero 1 and vaccine numero dos. Almost everyone I know has had the Pfizer vaccine and only went 21 days between shots. Hope things to continue to open back up again. We didn’t have waves of lockdown here in El Paso, just one big lockdown for months.

    • Reply Min April 12, 2021 at 4:51 pm

      12 weeks sure is a long time between vaccinations isn’t it? There would be a good reason for it I’m sure. I’ll be glad to get the two vaccinations over and done with. Hopefully no more lockdowns here!

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