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Newsletter February 2021

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Newsletter February, 2021


Covid Vaccine News



By Patient Jill Berensen – Dragon Talk participant and Volunteer, retired nurse of 40 years
Meet Jill at her vaccine presentation/discussion on our Dragon Talk Zoom 10th March 10am (Canada 9th)



Covid Vaccine Update

by Jill Berensen

Well, it's time to talk Vaccines. On Monday 22nd Feb the Pfizer, mRNA vaccine will commence rollout. In NSW more than 35,000 high-risk workers will receive this vaccine in the first three weeks. Hotel quarantine workers — including those screening arrivals at the airport, cleaners, health staff, police officers and security guards — and healthcare workers with the greatest potential of exposure to the virus will be prioritised. Also, the federal government is coordinating the vaccination of residents and staff of aged care and disability residential care facilities in this first round.

In Sydney, the vaccines will be administered in three initial vaccination hubs at Westmead, Liverpool and Royal Prince Alfred hospitals.

In Victoria, the government has allocated 12,000 doses for the first week of the program, with 59,000 doses to be supplied within the first four weeks. The first Pfizer vaccines will be given to hotel quarantine workers, airport and port workers, high-risk frontline health staff, and public sector residential aged care staff and residents.

The ACT is hoping to be able to begin its rollout on Monday, but that hasn't yet been confirmed, and further details are minimal at the moment.

Also, the Dept. of Health has reached out to all GP's and regional Health Professionals in preparation for the vaccine roll out. They have all received Training and Information Modules in readiness.

This information includes:

  • COVID-19 introduction
  • handling and storage
  • communication and purpose
  • multi-dose vial (MDV) training
  • documentation and reporting
  • safety and surveillance monitoring and reporting for adverse events following immunisation

The GPs who expressed an interest to be involved in the vaccine rollout — which will be focused on the AstraZeneca vaccine — will be notified if they are required next week. From what I understand, we, as a health demographic, would be in the 1b group (adults with underlying medical conditions or disabilities), which will probably start to receive the vaccine in mid-March, early April, all being well. As we will not be given any choice as to which vaccine we receive, it will probably be the AstraZeneca Oxford Vaccine. After receiving the vaccine, we will have to wait 15 to 30 minutes, in case of reactions.

There are no specific safety concerns, especially based on overseas data, and the vaccine induces good immune responses, which is a positive indicator it could be effective in the elderly. At this time vaccinations will only be given to children over 16. As with most vaccines, there may be some soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Also watch out for fatigue, fever and general aches some hours after the injection. All vaccine recipients will be registered on AIR (Australian Immunological Register) and I believe there will be representation on the Medicare/MyGov App to facilitate international and national travel or border crossings.


During this vaccine roll-out we warn everyone should be cautious about getting emails and telephone calls pertaining to be from the government and requesting information.

Always ask:

  1. Which department are you calling from?
  2. Please give me a number I can call you back on
  3. Do not give out any personal information.
  4. Ask them to verify who your GP is by name, practice, and address.
  5. Then call then to verify the initial caller.
Remember we have waited this long; you will not lose out on a place in the queue as this is at the discretion and advice of your GP.  There are enough vaccines for everyone so a day or two late will not matter.

Note to our Canadian Ontario members: 

Canadians can feel confident that efforts behind the scenes are ongoing to ensure delivery to all parts of our large country. The delivery has been stratified according to risk. Currently both mRNA vaccines have been approved: there are other vaccines coming. Health care is a provincial jurisdiction so details will vary across provinces. Ontario – April 2021 available to adults, people in high-risk settings, frontline essential workers, including individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their carers……Aug 2021 vaccines available widely across Ontario.

In Ontario:

Phase 1

Starting Dec 2020 A limited number of doses available for Ontario’s most vulnerable populations and those who care for them: seniors living in aggregate settings and first nations and others living in the far north.

Phase 2  

Starting April 2021 Increasing stock of vaccines, available to  adults older than 80, people in high-risk settings, frontline essential workers and other populations that are at greater risk of illness

Phase 3

Starting August 2021 Vaccines available widely across Ontario for anyone who wants to be immunized

For those of us with autoimmune conditions, we may fall into phase 2.


Invitation to the weekly DragonTalk



Dragon Talk is a peer support program led by Patients with autoimmune diseases. Our aim is to provide a safe environment to share and learn from each other and from invited experts. Dragon Talk aims to reduce the isolation that can come with an autoimmune disease diagnosis. We aim to provide emotional support, friendship, as well as education. While we are not your treatment team, with knowledge and support, you will become a better advocate for your own health.

We meet for an hour, by zoom, weekly.

Following is a sample of our upcoming zoom meetings:


peopleIcon Upcoming Meetings
 March 3 "Meat/No Meat" talk by our Functional Nutritionist
March 9 CoVid vaccine by our nurse Jill
March 17 Coffe break - free flowing converstion
March 24 Podiatry (tentative)
March 31

Personal story sharing - Sarah's story

Our members love sharing their research and experiences about improving their health and we all agree we are now supported and connected with our fellow patients


Dragon Talk (DT) Facilitator is Dr. Charmaine Jones.

Our regular DT patient Jill Berensen says “Charmaine has demonstrated a very vigorous and intelligent leadership style as well as exhibiting her calm and profound understanding of RA suffering. 

Her facilitating style has been not only highly effective and dynamic but insightful and visionary. She is such a wonderful person and a great asset to our Drag Talk group.”
If you would like more information, or to be added to our weekly invitation list, please email Charmaine This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Invitation to Mindfulness Program



Have you heard about “mindfulness”? Wondered what it was all about? Explored doing a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) but either the timing wasn’t right, it was too expensive, or you just never got around to it? Here’s an opportunity!!

We are forming a support group to experience the online MBSR training course that is 100% free, created by a fully certified MBSR instructor, and is based on the program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

We still have a few spots available and you can find out more by clicking HERE

We are planning to spread this 8 week course over 16 weeks, meeting every other week. This will give more time to do the readings/watch the videos. The first zoom support group will meet Wednesday March 11 @ 0800 for 1 hour (AET Australia) (Wednesday March 10 @ 4 pm ET Canada) and meet every 2 weeks following. (ending June 18, 2021).

Have a look at and see if this is for you!

If you are interested, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Numbers are limited: we have a few spots left.



Welcome Dr. Charmaine


‘I’m guided by Science, rooted in Community, motivated by Compassion and pursuing life in health’s wisdom”.

We are privileged to announce that Dr. Charmaine Jones has joined our Board of Directors. She is a highly respected physician of 40 years in Canada and an auto-immune inflammatory arthritis patient for the last 6 years. Her son and family reside in Australia and she looks forward to returning to Australia to hug her grandchildren. She lives on her own island in Ontario with her partner Linda and they zoom into our weekly morning zoom Patient Dragon Talks (their evenings) with other Canadian RA and /or Lupus patients. Charmaine has been leading our discussion and educational zooms since mid- 2020.

Dragon Claw’s Chairperson Denis Tebbutt says “Charmaine is a very engaging and empathetic member of DC and enjoys the research associated with improving the understanding of how our autoimmune system copes with the day to day lifestyles we have all developed. As a Board member she will make a significant contribution to the services and information made available to those with auto-immune conditions.”


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