• Archives
  • Categories
  • Archive for October, 2018

    I didn’t get the flu shot. Does that make me an anti-vaxxer?

    2018 - 10.13

    There are anti-vaxxers. And then there’s choosing not to the get flu shot. It’s hardly the same thing, right?
    Nanjing Night Net

    Like many Australians, I’ve happily ignored the offer of a free dose of the influenza vaccine at work.

    My reasoning: I don’t get the flu (touch wood) and if I were to be struck down by illness, I wouldn’t be hurting anyone but myself.

    But with the nation in the grip of a particularly nasty flu epidemic, I’ve wondered, is it time for us to change our cavalier attitude to the flu shot?

    Perhaps getting the influenza vaccine is no longer a personal choice but, at some point, has turned into a moral issue. And I’ve become an accidental anti-vaxxer.

    In search of answers, my first port of call is official sources.

    There is simple advice from the Australian department of health, which says the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone from six months of age.

    There have been repeated calls by experts for all Australians to be vaccinated, most recently following a spate of deaths in nursing homes in Victoria and Tasmania, then after a young Victorian father died due to complications associated with influenza. He was just 30, the same age as me.

    Yet when Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon dubbed “lazy” those people who forgot or chose to forgo the flu shot this year, he was referring to about 60 per cent of the population (according to finder南京夜网419论坛 data).

    Many of them I imagine are not active vaccine resisters, but are healthy or young, and genuinely thought their personal decision would do no harm to others.

    There is also an important distinction that can be made between the influenza vaccine and vital childhood vaccines (something that I would never avoid for myself or any of my family members).

    While there are rumblings that this could change in the future, the influenza vaccine is still is not free for all.

    It is available for free through the National Immunisation Program for only certain groups who are at high risk from influenza and its complications, including pregnant women, people aged over 65 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of particular ages.

    I asked Professor Kanta Subbarao, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, if she thought getting the flu vaccine could still be considered a personal choice.

    She said yes, but also that it was a decision people should make after considering those around them.

    Professor Subbarao noted babies under six months could not receive the flu shot, so parents and caregivers should be aware they could infect their infants.

    Each year influenza and pneumonia claim the lives of more than 3000 people in Australia (influenza and pneumonia are ranked 12th by the Bureau of Statistics for things that can kill you).

    Interestingly, the average age of death in this group is almost 89 years, which makes me think about my 93-year-old grandma. I intend to visit her in a week (her 94th birthday bash), and would like to have her around for many more years yet.

    When I asked people at work about their flu vaccine choice, people tended to fall in two camps.

    The first, like me, thought of themselves as having superior immune systems. The second had either had the flu in the past, or seen it up close.

    “I thought I was going to die,” recalled one coworker.

    Perhaps the flu shot is one of those things that many people don’t realise they need until it’s too late.

    When I called Australian Medical Association vice-president Dr Tony Bartone, he could only spare a few minutes, as the Melbourne GP was neck deep in flu cases. For him, the choice is simple.

    “[The flu shot] is the only objective way to be able to protect yourself against influenza. We know that especially for vulnerable members of the population ??? they are at risk of serious complications, including hospitalisation and also death,” Dr Bartone said.

    “It’s about doing the right thing by yourself and also elderly and young members of your family.”

    It’s not too late to get the flu shot this year.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Democracy might be messy but it’s vital

    2018 - 10.13

    HUNDREDS of thousands of people will vote in local government elections across NSW on Saturday.
    Nanjing Night Net

    For many it’s been a long time coming.

    The NSW Government’s mess of a council amalgamation process left many communities under administrators when their elected representatives were summarily sacked in May last year. While councils untouched by the amalgamation process went to the polls last September, other communities have had to wait 16 months to elect representatives again.

    Australians like to complain about their governments, whether federal, state or local. Often as not, when talk turns to the local council people are likely to complain about roads or potholes, or how long it takes to get a development application through.

    But when we look at the broad range of responsibilities local government is now left with, it is probably time we showed a little more respect to the lowest tier of representative government we have.

    There are 128 local councils in NSW after the government’s amalgamation process, and 10 in the Hunter, including the newly-amalgamated Mid Coast Council. They are responsible for providing services to a population ofmore than 700,000. They range from the minnow Dungog, with about 9000 residents, to the heavyweights of Newcastle, 155,000, and booming Lake Macquarie,with a population close to 200,000.

    When people walk into polling booths on Saturday they’ll be deciding on councillors who will make decisions that could directly affect their lives and communities.

    In the case of Dungog Shire Council, residents will be asked if they even want the council to exist at all, or whether a merger with Maitland or Port Stephens Council will help it deal with increasing demands and a flatlining rate base.

    We do complain about the ritual of votingbut it is the great leveller. In a democracy built on the shaky foundation of a convict colony established without regard for the rights of the original inhabitants, we now line up together, with one vote each.

    In other countries around the world it is a right worth fighting for, and dying for, and yet in Australia we wander in wearing our thongs and t-shirts and barely give a thought for how fortunate we are.

    Good luck to all participants taking part in these elections, and let us hope the winners act for the community, and not a select few.

    Issue: 38,593.

    Use your hands when you sneeze? You’re doing it wrong

    2018 - 10.13

    Do you use your hand to cover your nose when you sneeze or your mouth when you cough?
    Nanjing Night Net

    If so, you’re doing it all wrong. Infection experts say you should use your arm instead.

    New rules around coughing and sneezing suggest the best way is to use the crook of your arm, or inner elbow, to prevent germs spreading.

    Doing so helps prevent the spread of bacteria via your hands, and lessens the risk of you infecting others with your cold.

    Professor Lindsay Grayson, Director of Infectious Diseases at Austin Health, says coughing into our hands or a snotty handkerchief means your mitts will carry the virus, spreading the bacteria.

    “The appropriate etiquette for coughing is to cough into the front of your elbow,” Dr Grayson said.

    “For sneezing, obviously you can do that. But it’s a bit gross isn’t it?

    “When you go and touch people ??? you’re likely to spread virus but also spread it onto other objects.”

    Dr Grayson said if you do sneeze onto your hand, washing them up to your wrists is best practice.

    His advice is echoed by Victoria’s health department, which says that directing a sneeze or cough into your elbow is the best thing to do if you haven’t got a box of tissues handy.

    The state government’s guide for what to do when you feel like you’re about to cough or sneeze. Photo: Department of Health & Human Services

    But vaccination is the best thing that we can do to protect ourselves.

    Government-subsidised vaccines are available through the national influenza program to those most at risk, such as the elderly, children under three years, people with chronic health conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

    But you can also get an appointment with your general practitioner, with cost depending on the type of vaccine you receive.

    Dr Grayson says in the case of the influenza virus, the best thing that you can do to prevent picking it up is to be vaccinated. But that it does depend on the vaccine being the right vaccine for the particular strain.

    Authorities have urged more people to get flu vaccines in what has become the most widepread flu epidemic for more than 15 years.

    Have you had your flu shot? There’s still time to get vaccinated. Photo: Karleen Minney

    The second most important thing after that it’s just to wash your hands, or other parts of your body that have been exposed to germs.

    “If you’ve been coughed on the face, you can wash it with soap and water and that will immediately wash away any virus there,” Dr Grayson said.

    “But it’s much harder if someone is coughing on you and you breathe in their breath because then you’re inhaling the virus.”

    Kanta Subbarao, who heads an influenza research centre at the Doherty institute for infection and immunity, said research showed wearing surgical masks could help “prevent a lot of influenza transmission”, especially in a hospital setting.

    In a number of Asian countries, particularly Japan, it is considered polite to wear surgical masks if you have a cold to stop you spreading it to others.

    “If the person that is infected is wearing the face mask then they are less likely to cough and sneeze on other people, or their coughs and sneezes don’t travel as far,” Professor Subbarao said.

    Professor Subbarao said face masks can also stop people from touching their faces and spreading mucus.

    For those with a weakened immune system, Dr Grayson recommends avoiding crowded public transport as you can’t control whether you will be exposed to a virus. (Viruses can remain on a surface for up to three hours.)

    And when it comes to washing our hands, humble soap and water works just as effectively as alcohol-based hand rubs, a study conducted Dr Grayson found.

    The World Health Organisation has also published its guidelines on the best way to wash your hands to prevent highly-infectious germs from spreading.

    The new WHO instructions on how to best wash your hands Photo: World Health Organisation

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Mumford woes: Another key Giant injured

    2018 - 10.13

    Greater Western Sydney’s spluttering premiership bid has been dealt another blow with ruckman Shane Mumford in doubt for the Giants’ semi-final.
    Nanjing Night Net

    A new day brought new worries for the one-time flag favourites, who are in danger of being without two of their best and fairest winners for next week’s must-win clash against either West Coast or Port Adelaide.

    Mumford was on crutches at Adelaide Airport on Friday to protect a troublesome ankle problem that has affected his form in recent weeks. The Giants said on Friday he would be assessed in the next day or two.

    The hulking ruckman did not have a disposal in the first half and just three for the game against the Adelaide Crows, though he had 38 hit-outs and laid seven tackles in the 36-point defeat.

    Back-up big man Dawson Simpson is in contention for a call-up if Mumford is ruled out, though the Giants could give Rory Lobb more time in the ruck.

    “Shane is carrying an ankle at the moment, battling to get up at times,” coach Leon Cameron said. “One thing about him is he just keeps finding a way. I thought at half-time he was probably gone with his ankle, but he finds a way.

    “I thought his second half was better than his first half. He’s a determined player. He’ll be looking forward to playing again next weekend.”

    The Giants behemoth joins All-Australian forward Jeremy Cameron in the casualty ward. Cameron was due to have scans on his injured hamstring on Friday night and is at long odds to play next week.

    Even a mild strain, with its customary 21-day recovery period, would have him touch and go to be fit for the grand final – should the Giants get that far.

    Having struggled to score against the best sides in the competition, the Giants cannot afford to lose a forward of Cameron’s quality, but his absence would give them the opportunity to play a smaller and more mobile forward line. @[email protected]@[email protected]@GWSGIANTS ruckman Shane Mumford on crutches at Adelaide Airport #AFLCrowsGIANTSpic.twitter南京夜网/ytxkxmStWM??? Michael Robinson (@ozrobbo) 8 September 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Pot calls the kettle black on grant aid

    2018 - 10.13

    Fight: Fiona Nash cries foul of Labor criticism of a $940 million Federal grants program.THE Federal Government has defended a grants program that showered the Central Coast with $12 million while the Hunter got just $305,000 by saying the Labor Party did the same thing first.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The two major parties attacked each other in speeches in Federal Parliament this week after the NewcastleHerald revealed a vast discrepancy in community development grants program allocations to the neighbouring regions since 2014.

    Labor regional spokesperson Stephen Jones called for Australian Auditor-General Grant Hehir to audit the program, while regional communications minister Fiona Nash responded with figures showing the previous Labor Government gave nearly five times as much money to Labor as Coalition seats.

    “Labor and Stephen Jones should call for an audit into their own grants programme,” Minister Nash said.

    An Australian National Audit Office audit of Labor’s regional development Australia fund found there was “little insight” into project funding decisions that were “largely at the expense of projects located in electorates held by the Coalition”.

    The audit office questioned whether Labor’s funding decisions were “consistent with the transparent, competitive, merit‐based selection process outlined in the published program guidelines”.

    In a speech to Federal Parliament on Thursday Mr Jones described the funding of a Central Coast Group Training centre at North Wyong under the community development grant program as a “scandal” which had done nothing to help Central Coast young unemployed. The Central Coast’s youth jobless rate is 17.3 per cent compared with a national average of 12.9 per cent.

    Mr Jones described the grant program as a “National Party slush fund”.

    “It’s a $1 billion program with few guidelines and no competitive funding processes. The minister’s own department has confirmed to a Senate estimates hearing that this program is there to fund coalition election commitments,” Mr Jones said.

    The Coalition spent $135 million on NSW Coalition seats since 2013and $1 million on Labor seats.