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COVID-19; Don’t want Long COVID? COVID-19 Prevention

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Don't want Long COVID? COVID-19 Prevention

(CTN News) – COVID-19 and colleagues conclude in their multinational Delphi consensus paper published in Nature: “Public health authorities contribute to the dissemination of false information when they don’t reflect the current scientific understanding that SARS-CoV-2 is mainly airborne.”

The Australian public health authorities must act immediately to improve public awareness of the risks associated with airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, as well as effective risk mitigation measures.

Through educational campaigns and overt role modeling by authorities, public awareness and acceptance of the following facts could be maximized as a public health objective:

A communication tool may be to use the analogy of cigarette smoke posing a passive health risk, especially in poorly ventilated environments.

This airborne mode of transmission necessitates a much increased emphasis on mitigating it by employing a “vaccines plus” approach in Australia, which includes broader access to vaccination as well as testing, surveillance, treatment, community involvement, and implementation of social prevention measures (such as facemasks, separation [and isolation] and quarantine), structural interventions (such as ventilation and air filtration) and financial incentives (e.g. support measures).

Individual measures, such as vaccination, testing, treatment, facemasks, isolation, and quarantine, must be readily accessible in order to maximize voluntary participation.

The ideal situation would be for these measures to be readily available to all persons at no cost. Alternatively, these measures would be reimbursed for those who would otherwise be unable to access them due to cost considerations.

The COVID-19 vaccination process

In response to COVID-19, vaccination has been a primary focus for the Australian public health system. There have been restrictions on vaccination access due to a variety of factors, including vaccine stock availability, approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI).

Accordingly, ATAGI advice effectively restricts access to vaccinations for most children until the age of 5, regardless of the preference of the caregiver. Since June 2022, the US has offered the COVID-19 vaccine to all children six months and older.

It is also noteworthy that the US recommends administering the bivalent BA.4/5 COVID-19 booster to all persons aged 5 and older, whereas the ATAGI advice effectively limits the administration of bivalent booster doses to individuals aged 18 and older, regardless of the patient’s or caregiver’s preferences.

ATAGI advice effectively prevents older persons who are “up to date” with their vaccination schedule yet received their last (monovalent) booster many months ago from accessing the bivalent booster, regardless of their patient preference, contrary to US recommendations.

Recently published data support the rationale for the US’s approach as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Australia’s advice differs so significantly from that of the United States. This is especially since ATAGI’s meetings are held in camera, minutes are not published, and advice is frequently unreferenced with limited rationale.

A typical medical practice in Australia involves discussions between the doctor and the patient regarding preventive health options.

Both the doctor’s clinical judgment and the patient’s autonomy are respected as much as possible. In the case of other vaccinations, for example, if a doctor and patient agree that a COVID-19 vaccination would be in the patient’s highest interest, this may be carried out even if it does not perfectly align with Australian guidance such as the National Immunizations Program Schedule.

The patient may be required to obtain the vaccine via a private prescription, but the vaccine remains accessible to him or her.

In this current era of so-called personal responsibility for infection protection, as many politicians have espoused, it is unclear why a similar scenario does not exist for COVID-19 vaccinations.

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Salman Ahmad is a seasoned writer for CTN News, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the platform. With a knack for concise yet impactful storytelling, he crafts articles that captivate readers and provide valuable insights. Ahmad's writing style strikes a balance between casual and professional, making complex topics accessible without compromising depth.

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