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The Informer: Vaccine envy is a First World luxury

The AstraZeneca shipment touches down in Australia. Picture: Getty Images
The AstraZeneca shipment touches down in Australia. Picture: Getty Images

Ma! Ma! The vaccines are here!

The first shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine - also the biggest shipment of any vaccine so far - touched down on Australian tarmac this morning.

It might not be something we'll be telling our families about in the future ("Remember when we used to gather everyone together to wave at the vaccine truck?"), but it's undoubtedly a milestone in Australia's fight against the pandemic.

Unless you're in one of the priority categories, these AstraZeneca vaccines are the ones you and I are most likely to get.

As the kids on Twitter like to say, inject this news directly into my veins (literally).

But good news tends to come with a flipside. In this case, it appears some of us have developed a case of vaccine envy.

I'm not talking about the queue jumpers, like the two women in the US who dressed up as old ladies to get early access. Between you and me, I thought that was brilliant, and welcome further contributions to the discourse from those who studied at the two-kids-in-a-trenchcoat school of immunology.

I'm not even talking about the people who questioned whether Scott Morrison should have been one of the first in line.

No, I'm talking about people who are concerned they won't get the good stuff. The Pfizer vaccine, the one being injected into medical workers and the elderly as you read this, has an efficacy rate of up to 95 per cent. AstraZeneca's vaccine sits at around 82 per cent.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine - a single-shot immunisation recently cleared in the US - is also reportedly better at preventing serious illness and hospitalisation from variants including the more contagious South African strain.

The fact is, the expert advice remains that everyone should get the first vaccine available to them. The realities of the supply chain dictate that everyone waiting for a better mousetrap would result in (continued) disaster.

Like so many aspects of this pandemic, vaccination levels are a collective effort. The sooner we get the vast majority of the population inoculated, the sooner things might return to normal.

Besides, there's a very good chance that - given the propensity of the virus to mutate, and the lack of certainty over whether vaccines will stop its spread rather than merely guard against its worst effects - we will have to go to our GPs every year and get a COVID shot anyway.

Just add it to the long list of things we're supposed to feel guilty about, like scheduling a flu shot and going to the dentist.

Let's worry about one thing at a time, shall we?

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This story Vaccine envy is a First World luxury first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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