Dr Zac Turner has an MBBS from the University of Sydney. He has worked as a nurse, in Australia and internationally, and is also a biomedical scientist.
With news of vaccines reaching their final stages and the Australian government signing a deal to buy 25 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, many of us are thinking with relief that it is all over.
Unfortunately, it is not even close to halfway.
To achieve "herd immunity" and completely eradicate the transmission of Covid-19, we would need about 80 to 95 per cent of its population vaccinated, which in reality may take up until late next year.
And a key element to achieving this is to convince everyone to get vaccinated – even those people who are the curse of the scientific community, anti-vaxxers. That means 20 million Australians is the vaccination target.
Since January, Australia has conducted 5,380,613 Covid-19 tests. To achieve our target, we would need to double that number, twice, in half the amount of time. It will be a landmark test of our country, and it will be a chapter in our history textbooks.
Once a vaccine is approved for general use, it will take a minimum of three to six months for it to be made available to the entire population of Australia. During this time, it could be difficult for authorities to determine who is an anti-vaxxer versus somebody who is yet to be offered the vaccine.
The government should consider updating the current "yellow fever vaccination passport" issued to Australians who receive vaccinations before visiting high risk countries. These could easily be turned into electronic vaccine cards and offered to each Australian.
At least 2 to 5 per cent of the Australian population cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons, especially those with serious allergies. It's important to protect those who can't be vaccinated by having everyone around them vaccinated – so it cannot spread.
The next biggest threat to the virus is those who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In America, a CNN poll showed one-third of Americans would not get the vaccine even if it was readily available and affordable.
That's startling enough to hear but we should recognise as a cultural extension of America, our population could not be too far off this as well.
Australia's next obstacle will be getting people to be vaccinated. We cannot afford to be complacent.
The problem is a bunch of clowns with degrees from the "University of Believing Everything They Read Off the Internet" are espousing misinformation and lies that could seriously derail our country's return back to normal.
I believe a person who refuses to be vaccinated should not be allowed to travel interstate or overseas, nor be allowed to travel on public transport without a face mask. And when it comes to the private sector, businesses could refuse these anti-vaxxers from visiting their retail outlets, gyms, movie cinemas, restaurants, bars or nightclubs.
As a precedence, state governments have previously banned children from attending childcare if they are not vaccinated. Similar restrictions could be placed on Australians who refuse to take the Covid-19 vaccination.
The foundations of my medical training were involved in infectious disease and vaccinations. Before I studied medicine and one of the key factors that led me to study it in the first place was the several months that I spent volunteering alongside Médecins Sans Frontières in the Republic of Congo.
Between 2002 and 2003 I helped vaccinate the local populations from mumps, measles, rubella, polio, and tetanus. First-hand I saw a community struggling to achieve herd immunity. It was this training and experience that has moulded my strong passion for vaccinations, as I have seen the devastation when herd immunity does not exist.
A few years later in 2007, I worked in the AstraZeneca malaria research lab in Brisbane where we researched the development of medication and treatments to eradicate malaria from the world.
AstraZeneca may sound familiar as it is developing the Covid-19 vaccine that Prime Minister Scott Morrison settled in a deal to make sure every Australian has a vaccine.
We should not take this for granted, our Prime Minister should be commended for opening the door for Australia to fast track our population to get back to our normal lives.
Choices have consequences and an anti-vaxxer's nonsensical stance should see their lives limited to help protect the rest of the community.
No longer can we nurse the conspiracy theories of a few, and put us all at risk.