“With the World Health Organisation declaring the pandemic over and most Australians now not practising any form of social restriction it can be difficult to know what to do to protect ourselves and loved ones from COVID-19.

From my clinical experience, provided that Australians over 65 are fully vaccinated, it is only the very frail elderly who are at risk of severe illness and hospitalisation.  There is also risk for those who are heavily immune-suppressed (ie. treatment for blood cancers like leukaemia and lymphoma), though the patients are at risk of all types of infectious disease.

Equally, Australians in their later years are at risk from influenza and other common respiratory viruses which can also result in hospitalisation.  It is unfortunate, but a reality, that minor infections can also result in death for the very elderly.  The key balance is to minimise the risk of transmitting an infection whilst ensuring that we don’t isolate our older friends and relatives from society.

The two key pieces of advice are: ensure that older relatives are up to date with their vaccines, and avoid visiting them if you are unwell.  You can also do a combined influenza/COVID rapid antigen test for added reassurance.  Apart from that, it is more important that older Australians have regular social interaction and most precautions are now safe to dispense with”.

– Dr. Nick Coatsworth, APA Ambassador for Health Reform