GP urges greater booster uptake


A western suburbs doctor is urging residents to keep updated with their COVID-19 vaccines, as cases in the west continue to increase.

Daily COVID-19 case numbers in Brimbank rose above 200 last week, peaking at 399 cases on Wednesday, May 19. There were 1631 active cases in the municipality as of Friday, May 20, up from 1509 a week earlier.

GP Dr Joe Garra said low third dose vaccination rates could have contributed to the figures. The third dose vaccination rate across Brimbank is between 50 and 60 per cent.

“It [COVID-19] hasn’t gone away, and it’s not going away in a hurry,” Dr Garra said.

“Yes, it’s milder but it’s not mild for everyone.”

Dr Garra said people who have experienced the virus often believe they do not need a booster shot.

“Lots of people have had it now,” he said.

“They’re probably thinking I’ve had COVID, I’m OK.

“The evidence is your immunity doesn’t last long after having caught COVID, you only get a few months, if that.

“People have been isolating for two years now, so there’s been no cases for two years, people haven’t had little doses over the last two years, so no one’s got any immunity at the moment.”

Dr Garra said residents do not need to feel “paranoid” but should still exercise a level of caution.

“Make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines and just be careful of where you’re going,” he said.

“If the supermarket is crowded, go somewhere else, and don’t crowd up behind people, if you’re vulnerable, wear your mask.

“Keep your windows open at home so you don’t catch it from each other.”

Dr Garra said community members should not rely on rapid antigen tests.

“Symptoms and negative RAT means [do a] PCR,” he said.