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September 2021

Yiannis Efstathiadis jpeg
Yiannis Efstathiadis

Doc gives COVID-19 vax advice

Northern Health emergency department registrar Yiannis Efstathiadis made headlines last year when he shared his story on contracting COVID-19 and ending up in the intensive care unit fighting for life.

A year after, and now fully vaccinated, he looks back at the scariest time in his life.

The 35-year-old doctor had all the usual symptoms – fever, headache, muscle ache, joint ache and worsening lethargy.

‘By about two weeks in, I started to get the dry, annoying cough and by the third week, I couldn’t look after myself.

‘I was home alone, as I had to self-isolate.

‘When I got too weak to look after myself, my wife had to call an ambulance for me.’

Dr Efstathiadis was first admitted to the COVID-19 ward at Northern Hospital Epping and, during one of the vital checks, the doctors noticed his oxygen levels were 86 per cent.

While different treatments were implemented, the levels would not improve.

It was a difficult period for him and his family, as he could not have any visitors and his colleagues were not certain of his outcome.

His wife, also a doctor at Northern Health, was the only point of contact for all his family members.

Everyone was scared for his life.

‘I stayed in the ICU for four days and, after waking up, I had to go to a ward for another couple of days.

‘Then the slow recovery started.’

Luckily, Dr Efstathiadis does not have any of the long-term consequences of the virus and feels grateful to have fully recovered.

In March this year, as soon as the vaccines were offered to staff, he was there to receive his.

‘I went to get my COVID-19 vaccine late March, on day one of staff vaccination.

‘It’s important to get vaccinated and keep our loved ones safe.

‘Even if it wasn’t just for me, if I had given COVID-19 to anyone else last year, especially family, that would be devastating.

‘I have older grandparents, so many young cousins and people around me with underlying conditions that I couldn’t even imagine what would happen if they caught the disease.’

Dr Efstathiadis is encouraging people to have a discussion with their doctor and get vaccinated.

‘If you are hesitant, talk to someone about it and make sure you get your advice from healthcare professionals.

‘Talk to people who know what they are talking about.’

• Dr Efstathiadis’ message is on YouTube video – in English and Greek. Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1x0Tz4m7vo to watch in English and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Hm_VfjsQ0g for Greek.