They’re the faces of Queensland’s pandemic frontline, captured more than a century apart.
Students enrolled in Mater Education’s Diploma of Nursing masked up against COVID-19 for their return to classroom learning earlier this year, mirroring similar precautions taken by Mater nurses and clinicians during the Spanish flu more than a century ago.
It was a timely exercise, in the wake of the recent pandemic and given that this week marks World Immunisation Day.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation now says we should all have had two doses of the COVID vaccine and a booster dose, and that now some people at increased risk should even get an additional fourth jab.
It’s what ATAGI is calling a winter booster, and ties in with the need to get a seasonal flu vaccine, with influenza, largely absent for the last two years, starting to re-emerge.
Mater Chief People and Learning Officer Donna Bonney said the way pandemics and infectious diseases were understood and treated had come a long way over the past 100 years, but one factor remained the same.
“Nurses, doctors and other clinicians continue to put themselves on the frontline to protect our community,” Ms Bonney said.
“We certainly have more education and resources to manage pandemics in 2022 than we did in 1920, but the health and safety of our communities continue to depend on those nurses and clinicians who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us.”
The first hospital laboratory in Queensland was opened at Mater during the Spanish flu pandemic to help diagnose and treat infectious diseases.
“One of the founders of that laboratory, Sister Mary Chanel, was fascinated with the scientific developments emerging at the time in the areas of biochemistry, microbiology and bacteriology and she played a large role in our understanding of how to test and treat infectious diseases,” she said.
Ms Bonney said Mater clinicians had continued to play a key role in Queensland’s pandemic frontline workforce, providing more than 128,000 COVID-19 vaccinations last year and testing more than 2500 patient samples every day.