“I would say at least 50 per cent of the [patients] coming through the ED are considered query Covid.” Some of those are “known Covid positive and are deteriorating”. And if they are unvaccinated “we can already plan their trajectory. We know it is going to be worse.”
Having done all her research, she decided to get vaccinated while pregnant – “my happiest day was the day I was offered my vaccine” – and she recently had her booster. There are currently young pregnant women in ICU at the Mater, and McArdle is anxious that others understand that the vaccine is safe and effective.
She suggests that if people who have chosen not to be vaccinated “could see what we see in the hospital, if the unvaccinated people could see how sick young people are getting – and not people with significant underlying health concerns – it would really open up their eyes.”
I ask her to tell me. She describes two patients presenting with similar respiratory symptoms; one vaccinated, the other not. Unless they have a major illness, the vaccinated person will “feel like they’ve had a head cold, they have a cough, they’ve got aches and pains”. Almost always, they can go home for rest, fluids and paracetamol.
The unvaccinated person is “going to be straight on oxygen. Sometimes their oxygen saturation is so low you’re looking at them and you’re thinking, Are their oxygen levels really that low? And then some will need oxygen via a noninvasive mask. Maybe a line in their neck, to give them certain medications, and a line into the artery in their wrists to keep a constant record of their oxygen and blood pressure. A proportion of those will go to intensive care and need intubation.