A MID North Coast doctor rolling out COVID-19 vaccines to the community says hesitancy to have the jab is a public health risk.
Dr Simon Holliday of the Taree HealthHub and Respiratory Clinic said the window is closing fast to get a hold on the health pandemic.
"We are in a fool's paradise at the moment. We are not using this golden opportunity to protect ourselves. We're looking a gift horse in the mouth, this small period of time we've got," Dr Holliday said.
Like medical professionals worldwide, Dr Holiday is concerned and frustrated by the level of hesitancy in the population about taking the vaccine versus the risks and long-term health implications of COVID-19.
He said too many people are wanting to wait until the Pfizer vaccine becomes available at the end of 2021, rather than receive the AstraZeneca vaccine now, fearing they will die from blood clots.
"Everyone's saying "I'll just see how it goes", but when it comes, it's going to be too late," Dr Holliday said.
"You don't clean your gutters on your roof just before the embers start falling. We have to realise this is a natural disaster and do what we can do to protect ourselves and our family, and that means get out and get vaccinated.
"It's about relative risk. Everyone hears there's this problem with this nasty illness (blood clots) and one person has died from it, and therefore 'it's going to happen to me. I don't want to die'."
However, statistics show people are at a much greater risk of CVT (cerebral vein thrombosis) if you have COVID-19.
"The whole thing about COVID is, people die if they get the bleeding clotting, the immune system goes mad. So people get clots everywhere, clots through their organs, they bleed everywhere, it's just a disaster. It's a horrific illness," Dr Holliday said.
Data gathered to date in the US shows that 39 people per million (0.0039 per cent) who had COVID-19 had reported cases of CVT, compared to only five people in a million (0.0005 per cent) who were given AstraZeneca, and four in a million (0.0004 per cent) for both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine.
The research shows that you are eight times at greater risk of CVT by having COVID, than you are after having the AstraZeneca vaccine, and 10 times greater than if you have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
"Everybody's scared. We're a traumatised community, we've been terrified and affected by drought, and frightened by bushfires, we were surrounded by smoke and then we've had COVID and floods. And I think we're expressing that fear as 'here's something we can be afraid of, and we can avoid one scary thing'," Dr Holliday says.
"Ninety-nine per cent of the world's population is exposed to this as a common virus. We won't be able to keep it out. When it comes, it's so important we've got this breathing space to get our population vaccinated. We don't want to go like India, or the way the UK or US was.
"With the rest of the world struggling to get the vaccine because of the overwhelming problems, we've got to seize the day."
The government has made it clear the free COVID-19 vaccination program will be voluntary in Australia, however, strongly encourages people to participate.
Residents can book an appointment with a local participating GP or attend a GP Respiratory Clinic vaccination centre.
Check the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker for a list of all services available.
Those seeking more information about COVID-19 vaccines should speak to their GP or call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.
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