Monday, August 09, 2021

Vaccinated at Clinic on the Edge for Many Possible Futures

Today I had my second AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at the
Tom Worthington after vaccination at the Casey Medical Center in Canberra, CC BY 9 August 2021.
Casey Medical Center in Canberra. I arrived five minutes early and was immediately ushered in for my shot, so that even with the 15 minute period after I was out the door by my original booking time. This was a fast and efficient process. 

To to get to this suburb on the north western edge of Canberra, I had to drive past a major public vaccination center which is much closer to home. Unfortunately when I went to book 12 weeks ago for my first jab the federal and ACT web systems were not working well. As a result I booked at a private clinic, as that was the only place I could get the booking system to work for. As it was sop difficult to get an appointment, I decide not to change my booking for the second dose, which as made 12 weeks ago at the same time as the first (to make it simple I booked both the same day of the week at the same time).

The suburb of Casey reminds me of the dystopian future depicted in the  "Nosedive" episode of the Black Mirror science fiction TV series: rows of neat houses, all built at the same time from the same materials, in the same muted colors. The Casey Medical Center is made of corrugated steel panels and looks like a temporary building quickly erected for a pandemic emergency (or something prefabricated for Antarctica, or Mars). But it is comfortable enough inside.

We have had it easy so far, so get vaccinated now, in case things get worse, a lot worse

For those hesitating about vaccination, please consult your doctor, and if they okay it, go ahead ASAP. Australia has been able to use measures to control the virus under relatively benign national and international conditions, but that may not continue. Natural disasters may require medical and emergency staff currently handling the pandemic to be instead saving lives in floods or fires. Rescue and recovery will then take priority, with hospital beds not available for COVID-19 patients.

It is also possible the Australian Defence Force may be needed in its primary role and so personnel would not be available to aid the civil infrastructure. Also some civilian medical personnel and other specialists are military reserve personnel who would be called to duty, so not available for for pandemic duties.

In addition, there could be cyber attacks on our infrastructure which directly limit medical and vaccination facilities. These could interrupt power supplies long enough for vaccine stocks to be destroyed and stop distribution and booking.

Also it is possible that information warfare could be used to undermine confidence in the authorities and ferment civil unrest. This could see fake information used to discredit officials and the community against each other. This would reduce vaccination rates, and may also case people to stop social distancing, spreading the virus and even attacking the infrastructure used to keep them safe. 

One of Australia's major international customers may decide to limit purchases of Australian goods and services, limiting the nations's ability to pay for imports of essential medical supplies. 

Any or all of these could happen without warning at any time. While these may sound far fetched, would you have believed a warning about a pandemic 19 months ago? In 2009 the assignment I set my web students at the Australian National University was to design a pandemic web site for Australia. Some of my colleagues thought this a little odd: when would those skills ever be needed?

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