Ballarat Health Services

By getting the jab, we can write next chapter

Published 29 May 2021, The Courier, Ballarat

We do, however, have an opportunity to create a new and different story – one that has a much more fulfilling ending. It can be a story that tells of the things we did, that were within our control, that helped shape our preparation for future outbreaks and made us more resilient to the impacts.

Despite all the things we cannot control in a worldwide pandemic, there are two things we can absolutely control and these will fundamentally change the way we live with this virus: vaccination and quarantine. In regards to both there is massive room for improvement.

Firstly, when we think of quarantine, let us drop the word “hotel” from our discourse and, importantly, channel our significant resources to the rapid construction of purpose-built, designated quarantine facilities. High-level judicial inquiries have called for this, the AMA has called for this and science tells us this. The Victorian government has as least one “shovel-ready” proposal, so let’s leave the politics and “who pays” out of this discussion and between the state and federal government, just get it done.

The Haymes family started making paint in Ballarat in 1935. The business is a Ballarat icon, now in the fourth generation of family ownership. Haymes is quintessentially Ballarat, so it’s no surprise that CEO Rod Walton, (son-in-law to David Haymes) has a strong call to action.

He is calling on Ballarat to “bare our arms” and get vaccinated. “Let’s get four out of every five proud Ballaratians vaccinated and be the safest regional city in the country”, Walton said.

In Ballarat and our surrounds, we have a population of approximately 71,500 people over the age of 40. All these are now eligible to “get the jab”.

Eighty per cent of that cohort is approximately 57,000 people. If we can get 1000 People vaccinated every day, we will achieve this (at least for one dose) by the end of July.

Ballarat vaccination hubs are well equipped and can cater for this target, so the only decision now is for an individual to book in, walk up and get a jab.

Having 80 per cent of our eligible population vaccinated with at least one dose by the end of July will be an incredibly momentous step towards the future we all yearn for, and we can achieve this. We can also tell the world about our ambition and encourage others to follow. Quickly, word will spread to other regional Australian communities and our metropolitan cities won’t want to be left behind. It can be a competition that every city in the country will want to win. It actually is a race and getting left behind the rest of the world can not be an option.

This pandemic is not over for us until it’s over for the world. In Ballarat, we can play our role by rapidly baring our arms to help make our world infinitely safer and more resilient in the face of future outbreaks.

Many, including our federal health minister will say that people have the right to choose. The debate over rights versus responsibilities is one that has occupied many a vigorous discussion. I would suggest that there are times when one must triumph over the other.

In a world where individual rights seem to triumph over responsibilities all too often, I suggest now is a time when our responsibility is greater than our individual right.

In the face of devastation following world wars and natural disasters, we have shown an incredible capacity to cooperate; to join together and help those in need; to rebuild; to make personal sacrifices so others can prosper. This is such a moment in time. Getting vaccinated is about doing our bit so that others can be safe. It is an act of kindness that we are all capable of.

We saw the power of kindness in 2020. Daily, we witnessed inspiring displays of kindness, consideration and personal sacrifice, all for the common good. As a result, we found a heightened sense of community and how by doing just simple things, we can have an enormous impact.

Getting the jab is such a simple thing and yet we know it is the single most important lever we have to pull in our fight in over-coming this pandemic. The World Health Organisation and the science tells us this.

We can only control what we can control – and that is, every eligible Ballarat adult baring their arm for a jab.

Let’s see if we can get this done before the end of July and look forward to a future that is more resilient in the face of the pandemic.

Michael Poulton