As we begin 2021 and reflect on the year that’s passed, we are reminded of how unpredictable life can be.
A year ago, in the wake of horrific bushfires, we looked forward to a normal year. As Australia Day passed and the holiday season came to a close, we were only just aware of something called Coronavirus. But as work and school resumed, not many of us thought that within a few short months, life would change in ways none had imagined or remotely experienced.
With it came great hardship for many, and I am conscious that for a significant number of fellow Australians, that hardship remains.
However, we begin this year with a greater understanding of the virus and a greater feeling of hope. Many people are returning to the workforce, schools are resuming, and our economy is re-opening.
Last year we hoped a vaccine could be produced. Now a number that have proven to be effective are available.
This is a critical breakthrough as you know. It will tackle the virus at its core.
The development of vaccines has taken place at record speed. Never in human history have governments invested so much in the development of vaccines.
Importantly though, the speed with which the vaccines have been developed has not compromised their safety. Recently, the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in Australia – and the Government has a clear strategy to make sure everyone receives the vaccination, particularly the most vulnerable in our community.
Prior to approval, the vaccine has undergone rigorous testing and safety checks, and the decision to approve the vaccine has also been based on expert advice from the Independent Advisory Committee on Vaccines.
As Professor John Skerritt, Head of the TGA has said; ‘we will only approve vaccines when we have enough evidence that they work, and that they are safe’.
These vaccines have been tested properly, proven to work and are vital to our recovery in every way.
When the time comes over the coming months, I urge everyone to follow the health advice and have no hesitation in getting vaccinated.
This year will be about continuing to rebuild our economy, create jobs and opportunity and return to a more normal way of life.
Receiving a vaccination is the best way to ensure we continue to protect lives and livelihoods in the months and years ahead.