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Interview with Stephen Parnis: the importance of vaccinations

August 31, 2021

As COVID-19 cases rise across the country it is more important than ever to get vaccinated. We had a chat to Dr Stephen Parnis on his role with us at the Eye and Ear, and the importance of vaccinations.

Dr Stephen Parnis has been working as a part-time Consultant Emergency Physician at The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital since 2017. Providing oversight and leadership within our Emergency Department, Stephen supports and supervises medical staff of all specialties, and provides a generalist perspective in the medical care of the patients who present to our hospital.

“One of my most important roles is to support the only other Emergency Physician at the Eye and Ear—the wonderful Associate Professor Carmel Crock. It is a joy and a privilege to work with her, and the team of doctors, nurses and support staff who make up our Emergency Department,” Dr Parnis explains.

Dr Parnis also works at St Vincent’s Hospital, Werribee Mercy Hospital, and is a former leader of the Australian Medical Association at State and National level.

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephen has contributed to the conversation from a medical perspective, sharing insights on all aspects of the pandemic, specifically vaccination. Explaining that the safe and effective vaccination options are the key to forging a COVID-normal life here in Australia.

“I was fortunate enough to be at the front of the queue for vaccinations, as a frontline worker in Emergency. I gratefully received both my doses of vaccination in March this year, and they were Pfizer. I would have happily accepted AstraZeneca had it been the one offered to me. I encouraged my 20-year-old daughter who is also a healthcare worker to get vaccinated, and she received AstraZeneca around that time,” Dr Parnis explains.

Dr Parnis explains that there are many misconceptions about vaccinations, and they are mostly fuelled by fear, emotion, overestimation of risk, and a misunderstanding of the scientific expertise behind them.

“The main concern would be the belief that receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine has a high risk for forming dangerous blood clots. The risk is approximately 1 per 100,000 (with the risk of death being 1 per million). We conduct many procedures at the Eye and Ear every day that carry far higher risks of complications such as blood clot formation” says Dr Parnis.

The high saturation of pandemic and vaccination messaging we consume every day can cause anxiety and become overwhelming.

“It is an amazing and wonderful thing that the concerted work of the medical and scientific communities across the globe have resulted in safe and highly effective vaccinations that are now available to us. They are the only way we will be able to escape the pandemic. It is important to seek the advice of a trusted doctor, not an untested page via a Google search. Medical care is still based on trust and confidence, and the evidence from billions of cases now is that the vaccines protect us from COVID extremely well,” Dr Parnis says.

This is an incredibly tough time for all Australians, not just those on the frontline. 

“I would humbly say to everyone what I say to myself, every day. Be gentle with yourselves, with your families, friends, and colleagues. We will get through this together if we follow the expert advice and focus on the basics like sleep, exercise, and nurturing our relationships however we can,” says Dr Parnis.

More Eye and Ear COVID-19 updates here.

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