Managing risk

COVID-19 Vaccines – today’s game changer

Suspicious of vaccines? Don’t be – if you’ve never seen a child paralysed by polio or scarred with smallpox, it’s thanks to vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines will save lives and will save your business too 

This is not the first time a global pandemic has transformed life as we know it – history is chequered with periods when disease went on the rampage, sweeping away the lives and livelihoods of millions. 

But this time it’s different – unlike the Black Death in the Middle Ages, bubonic plague, or even the so-called ‘Spanish flu’ a century ago, this time we have an ace up our sleeves. COVID-19 vaccines will enable us to limit the deaths and are critical to reducing damage to the economy.

Massive human triumph

In the endless war between human beings and bugs, bugs in the form of bacteria, viruses, and parasites have been on the winning side in countless battles. 

The casualties from this war have dwarfed the numbers felled by military conflict – estimates vary but it’s thought the ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic killed at least 50 million people. The real number may have been far higher. 

The Black Death – caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, spread by body lice (not fleas on rats as previously supposed) – ripped through Europe in the 14th century and killed up to half the population. Just think what this would mean in Australia today, if an illness wiped out 12 million people: it would be as if every living soul on the east coast had died.

In comparison, the approximate thousand Australian deaths so far due to COVID-19 represent 0.008% of the total population.

In the 1980s, public health students listened to lectures by eminent professors excited and thrilled by the fact that the World Health Assembly had just declared smallpox eradicated – eliminated – and no cases of naturally occurring smallpox have happened since.

Smallpox had been routinely killing millions of people every year since the dawn of time, through the slow torture of painful, pustulent sores erupting all over your face and body, including in your eyes, mouth, and throat.

The worldwide rollout and delivery of the smallpox vaccine was the final triumph culminating in a long process of human curiosity, ingenuity, exploration of theories, experimentation, and dedicated work. The extent of the human suffering it prevented is incalculable.

We are lucky enough to live in an age where we can stand on the shoulders of past geniuses and develop and test a vaccine and roll it out in record time, without taking shortcuts on the testing. 

The extraordinary speed with which scientists have equipped us with a whole suite of COVID-19 vaccines is because never in the history of the world have so many people worked so hard on one single thing: to deliver an outcome – a solution to our problem.

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Limit the spread in workplaces

Day after day, we hear the state and territory chief health officers say that workplaces are a key place where people can and do infect each other. Infections can be passed on to other workers, as well as customers, clients and anyone else who happens to be present. 

It is not going to do your business any good, to be highlighted as a COVID-19 exposure site and have to shut down for a while and carry out expensive deep cleaning.

By vaccinating the working population against COVID-19, we can materially reduce this pathway of infection. 

Each vaccine that has been approved for use in Australia has been thoroughly tested for safety, including careful analysis of clinical trial data, ingredients, chemistry, manufacturing and other factors.The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration will only approve a vaccine if it is effective. This means that the COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia have been proven to be very effective at preventing disease, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.2  

Yes, vaccination is not the perfect silver bullet. And yes, a very small proportion of people will experience adverse effects. But you need to remember that the threat from COVID-19 is far greater – for every person at risk from a COVID-19 vaccine, many thousands are at risk of death from the virus.

Pragmatic employers will recognise that the sooner all their staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, the sooner we can revive business viability and get the economy back up and running properly again.

  1. Commonwealth Department of Health: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/learn-about-covid-19-vaccines/are-covid-19-vaccines-safe
  2. Commonwealth Department of Health: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/learn-about-covid-19-vaccines/how-do-covid-19-vaccines-work#

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied upon as health advice. Always seek the advice and guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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