Journalist, Writer

Masks out

COVID-19 medical masks

It is refreshing to hear that face mask requirements have been relaxed in Victoria in most settings.

A quick bit of information for those in search for more clarity on the evasive answer of did I, or, do I, actually need to wear a face mask during the pandemic.

The Department of Health in Victoria clearly states that if you have a lawful reason you do not need to wear a face mask or require a medical certificate. Simply put if stopped you will be asked to explain what your lawful reason is.

Keep in mind, this is a totally separate issue to the mandatory requirements that are put in place by institutions, such as health providers. 

The Australian Human Rights Commission is a good starting point for researching the fundamentals of this law and how to raise a matter, but you would have to specify your state based research after that.

Journalist, Writer

Vax sentiment

COVID-19 booster vaccine

I am only going to be using the official name of COVID-19 on this blog. 

I have been vaccinated for a third time against this coronavirus strain.

I booked a booster shot after a slight impediment to my face post the second vaccine (read earlier and see if you can piece it together as I write) because I was getting irritated wearing the face mask so I decided to take extra pre caution in the hope restrictions might ease.

Proof of booster shots are not currently mandatory for the general Australian citizen although this is still in question and already there is discussion of a fourth vaccine in progress.

Whilst vaccination for COVID-19 remains voluntary the Australian Government Department of Health statistics show that 95% over Australians aged over 16 years are vaccinated. 

Rises in these numbers are due to the fact that workers are required to provide proof of vaccination to continue working on site, unless they have a medical exemption, even though the default vaccine setting remains voluntary. 

Basically if you want to continue to work you might have to prove you are vaccinated, even though you could live your life in Australia without being mandated to vax – it’s just that if you selected this choice you might not be able to attend your place of work. 

It is unheard of me to use ‘x’ and slangify a word, I really detest that as a practice and strictly never do it, however just this once I thought it made light of the vax situation and what has turned out to be not a particularly amusing topic in my situation.

What I am getting at here is that early on in the pandemic there were anti-vaxxers voicing opinions but this has subsided substantially. The facts show only 5% of the population remain without a vax but there could be a variety of reasons for this, not just the suggestion that they are anti.

The reason I thought I would delve into this concept of anti-vax sentiment was that a week after the second vaccine shot I accidentally ‘tapped’ my face inadvertently with an object. It was a split second, but one of those defining shocking moments where things took a drastic turn in my life. Blame it on the working from home trend during the pandemic, the ongoing lockdowns and general malaise. It got me thinking about on what grounds could you be an anti-vaxxer and is that the same thing as a voluntary vax.

Things like freedom of speech, my body my choice, the right to protest are starting points but is being an anti-vaxxer actually allowed.

The information is out there if you are determined to be an anti-vaxxer but it comes with an incentive, could be one of way describing it, trade off, bribe or sweetener. 

The Australian Human Rights Commission tosses around the issue of federal discrimination law, digest that as, does that mean are you allowed to discriminate against me if I choose to be an anti-vaxxer.

The commission clarifies that vaccination is voluntary, but the aim is for most Australians to be vaccinated and the states are the authority that issue the public health orders for certain industries or workers.

This is certainly the case in Victoria where the Department of Health has split workers into groups with certain types of professions requiring proof of vaccination to continue working. They specify the dose quantity requirements for each type of worker. Either two vaccines or three vaccines, at this stage, and they define the worker types by broad profession category. You determine your profession and check if you are on the list and which dose group you have been allocated.

I guess you can be an anti-vaxxer but the ultimate decision depends on whether you want to have a job, because you might find being an anti-vaxxer is going to get in the way of that opportunity.

Journalist, Writer

The aftermath

Subsequent dose

So, Melbourne has a COVID-19 vaccination walk in program, which is what I did. Recounting the events before the first dose at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, I booked during a lockdown.

It was unusual to venture into the city during this time because there were so many restrictions when often the city is extremely busy. I could only make my way in because I was getting the vaccine. People can be creatures of habit so when you are in an extremely familiar situation that is suddenly unfamiliar it can be unsettling. Obviously the most noticeable factor missing was people. Certainly, seemed desolate and empty. The medical context amplified the situation as I was transporting to an extremely regulated venue, partly to maintain a health standard and to safeguard against another coronavirus outbreak. 

A few weeks later I had the second dose in the same situation. Now months later, and if you read something I wrote earlier on the blog, after investigating what seemed like a vaccine attack, I can say that I am vaccinated. 

After my experience I can see the argument for vehemently opposing invasive pandemic restrictions and mandatory vaccination. Particularly in a rushed setting as often vaccines take a long time to develop. 

Before my experience I had already decided I was fine about getting the vaccine. I was in the safe vaccine group so it was more a question of ethics and I had always decided that I would want to be vaccinated against this coronavirus.

I am annoyed about what happened in the aftermath of getting the vaccine, but I don’t entirely blame the vaccine itself. Looking at every factor, mainly the wider context, of an unprecedented situation where never seen before, in my lifetime, pandemic restrictions have been implemented in Melbourne. Regardless I preferred to be vaccinated.

I have now finished the Department of Health walk in vaccine program.