Save Our Ski Season Australia: Get the Shot!

Just 2 weeks to go till the June LWE official ski season starts in Australia and deja vu, it’s lockdown again.

Lest we forget, last season was a $2 billion plus disaster for the snow industry – and the regional towns that depend on it.

Now social media is awash with the posts from closed businesses – doors shut just when they should be enjoying the best pre season sales. Especially this winter as pent up demand explodes from snow lovers who couldn’t hit the slopes at home or anywhere over our summer. Events are being cancelled with virtually no notice – like the Outdoor Retailers trade show scheduled for Melbourne this weekend. How lucky were we to at least squeeze the Snow Travel Expo in?

But no, we are shut down. One person leaves quarantine in South Australia, returns to Victoria, and here we are.

Suddenly, there’s a rush to get vaccinated in Victoria at least. If you qualify.

Despite all the boasting about how wonderful Australia’s COVID performance has been, the bottom line is until we have mass vaccination we are totally vulnerable to a resurgence. Other countries with similar or even better relative COVID numbers – like Singapore and Taiwan – have suffered the economic and human consequences as they were caught unawares by resurgent strains of the virus that now spread more rapidly.

Check the latest here (source Our World in Data):

For the over-50s the AstraZeneca shots take 12 weeks to get both, then a couple of weeks after that to reach full efficacy. But some protection at least is supplied from the first shot, and your chances of getting COVID badly, or passing it on to others, are already greatly reduced.

America has set an example, half the population vaccinated in 4 months.

In Britain the relative numbers are even higher. Both countries have turned round disastrous initial responses to highly successful vaccination programs and a clear pathway back to normal life.

More urgency and better vaccine procurement in Australia – especially obtaining large quantities of the Pfizer vaccine initially – would have seen us far less troubled by any outbreak. If all the vulnerable people were done, the chances of anyone dying from COVID here would be absolutely minimal.

The current Victorian outbreak has put the pressure on governments – Federal and States – to ramp things up. As soon as we get the doses we should be getting them into people’s arms.

Instead of the endless posturing and buck passing over who is to blame, how about sitting down as a matter of urgency and sorting the fastest, most efficient way to get this done? Obviously that is not a drip feed via GPs.

Please don’t stuff this up again! We miss this.. © Mt Buller

There are so many simple ways that it could be done/encouraged: like free footy tickets and get your shot on the way in for example? With a crowd limit of the number who could be done (wouldn’t have to be same day as game for all of them). The costs for the AFL / NRL in lost revenue for a few games would be far less than the relocation costs they are incurring now – State of Origin 1 being the first big ticket victim most likely. Would the average 30 year old fan not accept an AstraZeneca shot for a free ticket if that’s all we have in stock?

The best thing any of us who want a normal Australian ski season, and near normal life to resume, can do is to get vaccinated as soon as we can.

Why is there no program to get the shots for season snow staff who will mostly be crammed into crowded accommodation and dealing with visitors from all over the country, in the middle of winter? A more ideal spreader environment would be hard to find – to wheel out last year’s #1 cliche, yes, it’s a giant petri dish in the mountains.

At least Ski Patrol are getting shots patrollers in NSW & Victoria told us, as they should as first responders.

For the record, I had my first shot 3 weeks ago, AstraZeneca, with no symptoms at all. Mrs SA had hers 6 weeks ago, and got a similar response to what she normally gets to flu shots every year – a couple of days feeling lethargic taking it easy.

Already it is too late for the start of winter. Any outbreak in NSW or further one in Victoria will likely lead to restrictions domestically.

Of course as soon as we have cases and restrictions anywhere in Australia the NZ travel bubble goes into pause mode or worse too, as it has for Victoria and anyone who has been there recently.

So if you want to save our Aussie ski season, get the shot!

Interestingly, out of all the Southern Hemisphere option countries with ski resorts (6 in total, trivia question can you name them all?) Chile is leading the vaccination pack by far.

Again, like the UK and USA, they had a disastrous start to pandemic control last year. But their massive, efficient vaccine roll out done in 5 year age brackets has seen them recover that. So as snow falls early outside Santiago resorts like Valle Nevado, Portillo and La Parva are looking forward to a great ski season after being shut down all or most of the 2020 one.

Early snow at Portillo May 23 2021
Portillo 23 May © Portillo