Not everyone celebrates lifting restrictions. For a certain group of Aussies, it’s a challenging and scary time.
NSW is today saying goodbye to masks in almost all settings and lifting restrictions on unvaccinated people.
But while many will celebrate the return to normalcy, there are thousands of immunocompromised people who are concerned about the changes.
“The level of fear is quite high, so when a state announces that it will remove the need to wear masks and other public health measures disappear, people with weakened immune systems start to worry,” Chris Tanti, CEO of the Leukemia Foundation, told reporters. to the news. .com.au.
“Simple things, like going to the supermarket, put you at risk.”
Tanti said anti-vaxxers are in the community and lifting restrictions, such as removing the mask mandate in supermarkets, was an issue.
“I know from colleagues in the UK, where there are no restrictions and the infection rate is spiraling out of control, that people with blood cancers are terrified,” he said.
“Even if people are double vaccinated, we know they will remain immunocompromised.
“If you’re immunocompromised, you’re well aware of the risks of catching a cold, getting the flu, getting Covid, so I can imagine there’s an increased susceptibility to a lot of people with blood cancers — certainly [in] the one we speak to is there.”
Tanti said there is a 34 percent risk that an adult patient with blood cancer who has contracted Covid will lose life, which is a more than one in three chance of dying.
At least 35 percent of blood cancer patients — more than one in three — have experienced clinically significant psychological distress related to their diagnosis and treatment trajectory since the onset of the pandemic.
While NSW Health couldn’t say how many severely immunocompromised people lived in the state, data shows that 4,463 were diagnosed with blood cancers in 2017, and that number is expected to rise to 12,043 by 2035.
Today in Australia 50 people are told they have blood cancer.
In October, Health Minister Greg Hunt said up to 500,000 people in Australia are expected to be severely immunocompromised and may need a third dose of vaccine in the coming months.
The Department of Health told news.com.au that the number of health exemptions for getting the vaccine is less than 0.117 percent of the number of Covid vaccinations administered in Australia.
Dealing with the increased risk
Natalie Britt, who lives in Sydney, has chronic myeloid leukemia, for which there is no cure, and is currently taking medication every day to keep her symptoms at bay.
She goes to her office job five days a week with ease, but said she should reconsider now. Her specialist doesn’t want her around unvaccinated people.
“I have to take that advice and go ‘do I really have to be in the office five days a week or can I limit that capacity and take care of myself during this period and see how it goes?’ I guess we have to wait and see,’ she said.
“Do I think there will be a spike in cases because people are allowed to be more free and unvaccinated? Yes, I think there will be a spike and that scares me a bit.”
But the 32-year-old said she won’t stop going to the grocery store, and she can’t predict who will be vaccinated there, so she’ll have to do whatever it takes to manage her own safety — like getting her hands on it. booster vaccine, social distancing and being vigilant with healthy hygiene.
Making difficult phone calls
Immunocompromised people in Victoria are also anxiously awaiting the rule change.
Mask mandates in most places are expected to be scrapped as early as this week and liberties for unvaccinated people are expected in the new year.
Melbourne’s mother, Samantha, has a nine-year-old son, Noah, who was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November 2019, just before the pandemic.
Now in remission, Noah has endured 19 long months of grueling weekly chemotherapy.
Samantha said she found it difficult to send her children back to the community and said it was extremely stressful to call.
“I’ve talked to so many moms at the cancer center and we’re all like, ‘we don’t know what to do,'” she said.
‘Do we keep them at home and drive out and see how it goes? There is no right answer.
“For anyone undergoing treatment, it will never be normal with Covid around.
“The best way to describe it is to go through a minefield. That’s how it feels. You don’t know where you’re going to go.”
Samantha made the decision to send Noah back to school and it had a positive impact on his behavior – a result of the cancer treatment – that concerned his parents.
But some parents of cancer patients, whom Samantha called “superhuman,” had decided to continue homeschooling.
Samantha, who has also lost family to Covid, said she would not take her children to the shops and that they stayed in clearings and eat outside in places such as the beach.
“We just have to adapt to a higher risk environment and that sucks, but it’s just the way it is,” she said.
Her message to anti-vaxxers is “you have to walk through a pediatric cancer center”.
“If you hear children crying and begging not to undergo procedures on them… you would be swallowing lead if it meant you could protect even one of them,” she said.
“When Noah was diagnosed, I was taken into a room and given a stack of papers that said ‘This is the poison we are going to put in his body’. Here’s what we know for sure causes: infertility, kidney failure “blindness, heart problems. Please sign and we’ll save his life.”
“If I can trust people I’ve just met to do that, I have to trust that the vaccine will do its thing too.”
The Victorian health department said restrictions on unvaccinated Victorians are still under review.