VIC DH & Chinese Community Covid Vaccination Forum
The Federation of Chinese Associations Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Victoria and recognizes their continuing connection to land and culture.
We pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
The number of people fully vaccinated in Victoria reached 91% as of 3 December based on the official data for Victoria.
With vaccination coverage, people are gradually getting back on track. However, last week saw cases of COVID-19's new variant OMICRON confirmed in Australia.
The emergence of the new strain of the virus has caused panic amongst Australians again, as they fear that Omicron will have stronger transmission and be of greater harm to the human body like the Delta virus. They worry that the vaccines previously administered will not effectively protect against the Omicron variant, resulting in Victoria being locked down once more and people's daily work and life affected.
Fronting the current public concerns, the Federation of Chinese Associations Victoria offers timely help, and is always thinking about what worries and concerns Chinese people.
On 30 November, FCA invited the executives responsible for vaccination in the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and authoritative medical experts to provide a high-level online briefing session in English with Chinese interpreting provided by Chin Communications, explaining the latest pandemic situation and vaccination policy, boosters and international entry-exit certification, and the latest official analysis especially for Omicron. The organiser asked the experts to answer questions from AusFocus journalists and participants from Chinese community organisations.
Federation of Chinese Associations Victoria
President Simon Qian
Diana Lin, Executive Vice President
Yin Yongsheng, Vice President
Changyun Lv, Vice President and General Manager of Dragon Vision Media
Secretary General Xu Chongli
Secretary Cai Zheng
VIP Guests and Experts:
Vivienne Nguyen AM
Chairperson of VMC
She has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) at the Queen’s Honours Awards for service to multiculturalism in Australia.
She is a role model who shows great supportive leadership and leads the Commission team together with all the multicultural background community to build an inclusive and cohesive society in Victoria.
Mohamed Mohideen, OAM, JP
Head of Priority Communities Engagement, COVID 19 Vaccination Program,
Department of Health.
He is a microbiologist and a professional member of the Australian Society for Microbiology (MASM), also the current deputy chair of the Faith Communities Council of Victoria.
He is a recipient of the Order of Australia (OAM) and is a current Justice of Peace.
Dr Thomas Schulz
Senior Medical Advisor within the COVID-19 Vaccination program of Victorian Department of Health
Infectious Diseases and General Physician, he has clinical appointments with the Royal Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospitals, and is a lecturer at the University of Melbourne.
Manager for Engagement and Partnerships – COVID-19 Response
COVID-19 Vaccination Program Engagement and Delivery
Department of Health VIC
Dr Steven Lu
Graduated from medical school with honours from Monash University and has been practising as a specialist general practitioner since attaining his fellowship with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Steven consults fluently in Mandarin.
Other guests attending the session:
Ausfocus: exclusive coverage
Dragon Vision Media
Mr. Arthur Wu
Honourable President of the Chinese Masonic Society Melbourne Lodge
Ms. Bihong Wang
Vice President of Asian Business Association of Whitehorse
Mr. RuDe Liang
President of Timor Ethnic Chinese Community VIC
Ms. Junxi Su
Former FCA President
Mr. Marcus LIU
Chin Communications, Chinese translation specialist
FCA Committee members
FCA group member representatives
1. FCA President Mr Simon Qian
2. Guest Representatives: Mr. RuDe Liang Timor Ethnic Chinese Community (VIC) Inc.
Live Report - VIP Speech
The event started puncutually at 7:00 p.m. Diana Lin, Executive Vice President of FCA, the host of the event, firstly gave a summary of the contributions made by FCA to the Chinese community and paid tribute to the people concerned, thanking all guests and friends for their participation and support.
She introduced the VIPs and participants for the event. After the introduction, President Simon Qian of FCA delivered a brief speech.
President Qian said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, FCA has actively been involved in all of the online seminars on pandemic policies and vaccination hosted by the government, has organised numerous offline prevention activities and established material distribution teams for major hospitals, business groups, associations, Chinese students and elderly and disadvantaged groups in the Chinese community.
FCA actively participates in briefings on the pandemic and government support policies hosted by departments of Health, Multicultural Affairs, Home Affairs and Business Victoria, passing on information in a timely way to all Chinese community members and their families in the spirit “united as one and helping many”.
Diana, the Executive Vice President of FCA, is the community ambassador of the vaccination project team of Victoria’s Department of Health on behalf of the Chinese community. She has been working together with the presidents of member organisations, persistent in updating pandemic policy information every day, providing answers to the public, contacting Chinese clinics and even helping elderly and disadvantaged groups with further explanations and vaccination appointments at vaccination centres.
With the support and assistance of presidents of Chinese community organisations, the Chinese community has been vaccinated with two doses of vaccine. From early fears of vaccination due to the lack of information to gradually building up confidence, the vaccination rate in the Chinese community has been on the rise and remarkable results have been achieved.
President Qian expressed his pride for this result and is gratified that people’s health has been protected to a greater extent! At the end of his speech, President Qian also expressed his heartfelt greetings to AusFocus Media, Australia Dragon Vision Media, Chin Communications, all directors and supervisors, representatives of Chinese communities and FCA members’ families at the meeting, and expressed his wishes for a successful online session.
President Liang RuDe, President of Timor Ethnic Chinese Community Victoria delivered a brief speech. After President Qian, Mr Liang RuDe spoke and on behalf of his organisation, wished everyone good health, prosperity and happiness. He said that only by fighting against Covid-19 and strengthening the rate of vaccination can we better ensure our health and personal safety. He also called upon everyone to continue to abide by government regulations, effectively reducing virus spread and eventually defeating the virus.
Ms. Vivienne Nguyen, the Chairperson of VMC, also delivered a speech at the session. She first thanked FCA for its perseverance in fighting the pandemic and actively helping the Chinese community to fight against the virus. On behalf of everyone at the Victorian Multicultural Commission, she wished the session success and everyone good health.
After the meeting, Ms. Su Junxi, immediate past President of FCA, also expressed her gratitude to the guests and organisers of the meeting.
Briefing by medical experts
Mohamed Mohideen, Head of Priority Communities Engagement, COVID 19 Vaccination Program, Department of Health, spoke first.
He talked about the current pandemic situation in Victoria and the latest vaccination policy, boosters and international entry-exit certifications.
Mohamed displayed the current vaccination situation in Victoria through pictures, and thanked the Chinese community and FCA for their positive role in the vaccination process.
He said that the rate of two doses of vaccine is increasing in the state, while the number of critically ill patients hospitalised due to the virus is also decreasing.
Mohamed once again emphasised the importance of daily protective measures, such as keeping social distance, washing hands frequently, not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands, and timely scanning of QR codes to record information when entering public places.
He also talked about the differences between standard PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction Test) and rapid antigen test (RAT) in COVID-19 and advice for use: if the RAT is positive, a standard PCR test (free of charge) should be conducted to confirm whether there is infection or not.
He briefed on the current regulations of the Australian government for the new variant Omicron, including: anyone who has been to southern Africa according to his picture within the last14 days must be immediately tested, and need to be quarantined for 14 days (counting from the date of departure from southern Africa); if the infection is confirmed, people who have been in contact with a confirmed person should be immediately notified to have a test.
He also talked about quarantine information concerning social contacts and the government's definition of a full vaccination.
Mohamed conveyed the details of vaccine boosters in Australia. The Pfizer vaccine is the booster recommended by the Australian government, but people can still choose other vaccines. The booster is suitable for people over 18 years of age and six months after the second injection. The booster is not mandatory. People can choose whether to have the injection according to their own situation.
However, research shows that a booster injection can effectively increase our own antibodies and prolong its effectiveness. Therefore, the Australian government suggests that boosters should be given if eligible.
Dr Thomas Schulz, an authoritative expert in Victoria, gave the latest official report and analysis on Omicron. He said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, there have been many mutant strains, including the Alpha and Delta strains, resulting in serious consequences.
He said that people need not overly panic. The rapid spread of the Omicron strain in southern Africa is closely related to local conditions. Statistics show that the vaccination rate of COVID-19 vaccines in the outbreak area of Omicron is only 25% because the population is generally younger. In addition, compromised immunity has also led to the rapid spread of the virus as there are a large number of people in Africa suffering from immune system diseases such as AIDS. Putting all of these factors into a picture, we know that the threat of the new strain to us is not as great as we thought.
Thomas illustrated that the reason many people are currently worried about the Omicron strain occurring in the spike protein, is the main way the virus connects with the human body. Thomas said that the Australian public health laboratory is also paying close attention to this new variant, and if the new variant Omicron is suspected after PCR standard virus detection, the unique gene detection of the new strain will be carried out.
He believes that the policy that should be taken for Omicron is to be vigilant, but not to overly worry. Four key issues concerning Omicron that people are concerned about at present were also expounded:
1. Will the Omicron strain aggravate the symptoms of confirmed cases?
According to this doctor, judging from the existing information, the disease from the new variant is not as serious, but we need to wait for more information to confirm.
2. In terms of spreading, will the new strain travel faster?
According to the evidence available, Omicron has quickly replaced Delta. From this aspect, it seems that the new strain is spreading faster, but the vaccination situation in Africa is also an important factor for the rapid spread of the virus.
3. Is the treatment for COVID-19 also effective for Omicron?
At present, there is not enough clinical data, and the specific treatment of Omicron has not been determined.
4. Is the vaccine effective for Omicron?
Doctor: At present, it is not possible to arrive at a conclusion that the vaccine is 100% effective for the new strain. With the outbreak of the Delta strain, we were all worried and discussing whether the vaccine would be ineffective for this strain, but the results showed that the vaccines were still very effective in preventing severe cases, so with limited information, we can't confirm whether the vaccine is completely effective for Omicron, but we still have hope for the vaccine.
According to the doctor, based on the performance of previous vaccines and treatments in dealing with Delta, and the good situation with the vaccination rate in Australia over 90% at present, people don't have to worry too much about the possible impact of Omicron. Australian governments and health and pandemic prevention departments are also waiting for new data and evidence in the next few weeks to confirm for the public.
Steven LU, the lecturer authorised by the Victorian Department of Health, gave the final speech. He summarised the speeches of Mohamed and Thomas, and answered questions about vaccines and new variant virus Omicron that everyone is concerned about at present through clinical data.
Dr. Steven added that for people who have been fully vaccinated overseas, he suggested that two more shots should be administered after arriving in Australia, which might have a good protective effect against the new Omicron.
He believes that the vaccines we are currently using should still be effective for Omicron, and the government and health department will continue to pay attention to whether the effective rate of the vaccine will decrease.
He once again stressed the importance of daily protections, hoping that everyone would still strictly abide by the prevention regulations and protect their own health and wellbeing.
A very big thankyou to the 89 community representatives who joined the Zoom meeting and have been sharing important updates to tens of thousands of families in the community.
FCA wishes everyone good health, peace, prosperity and joy.