COVID survivor Richard Evans fears those who have felt the effects of the deadly virus will be left on a scrap heap, as such, in navigating their way through the grey areas of vaccine passports to the COVID normal.
Mr Evans is double-vaccinated.
The Smeaton farmer and snowboard manufacturer was one of Ballarat's first COVID-19 cases after returning from the United States early last year.
To get a jab was no question for Mr Evans, who wants to ensure he never, ever gets COVID again. He still feels the effects of long-COVID 20 months later.
His concern is for people who have had the virus in this Delta wave - and there are plenty in Ballarat - who are unable to get vaccinated against COVID for at least another six months. He questions how they might be able to enjoy the benefits of fully vaccinated residents through no fault of their own.
The Courier is yet to receive clarification from Victoria's health department, but according to the state's coronavirus website, vaccine exemptions must be obtained from an authorised medical practitioner, including general practitioners. Exemptions last six months.
Temporary medical exemptions from a COVID vaccination, according to Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, includes complete recovery from COVID-19 acute illness, regardless of severity. ATAGI states chronic symptoms after COVID-19 do not contraindicate COVID-19 vaccines.
But Mr Evans said there is still the question that keeps popping up when you are out in public, such as for a haircut: "Have you had COVID?"
Mr Evans said he did not particularly care what others thought about him having had COVID. He said it could be hard for others feeling judged.
There have been a couple of times "out in the bush" where people have told Mr Evans they did not believe in COVID because they had never met anyone who had had the virus - until he told them otherwise.
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It is hard for Mr Evans to gauge his lingering effects from having caught COVID, aged 47, from what could be getting older or gradually building back fitness from being sidelined in recovery from the virus.
Mr Evans said physically he was not the same as before COVID, although he felt vaccination had helped relieve some symptoms.
"I still get a bit of mucous, it's a bit slimy clearing my throat. Generally, I still have a sore back but I can't say whether COVID gave it to me," Mr Evans said. "I do think I'm slowly getting better. It seems to go in stages - I can be the same for weeks or months then get a bit better then go another couple of months before I feel a bit better again.
"I'm probably not quite 100 per cent yet. I've been getting a bit of asthma and have been easily out of breath, which is something I did not have before. A new puffer has helped clear it up and I'm hoping it will stay like that."
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