Brad a vaccine advocate with a community message

Brad Rossiter OAM is a consumer champion whose life and health experience puts him in an influential position to advocate for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Brad has overcome multiple health challenges and become a community health leader in Bateman’s Bay on the NSW South Coast.  Now he has joined CHF’s Consumer Conversations video project to lend his voice to encourage COVID vaccinations.

His vulnerable health status has left him in no doubt of his personal need for vaccination.  It also drives his advocacy of the need for community-wide acceptance of vaccination.

As a child Brad was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a condition that in later life resulted in the amputation of both of his legs and progressive loss of vision.

The diagnosis did not prevent Brad as a young man having an active life, in sport and in his career as a butcher. That was until about 25 years ago when the diabetes began to have a serious impact on his health, with worsening kidney and eye disease.

But he insists he has much to be grateful for, thanks to modern medicine… and the double-organ donor and family whose donation saved his life. At the age of 37 after seven-years of being dependent on dialysis, Brad in 2007 got the break he had so long waited for: a kidney and pancreas transplant.

“Now I have no signs of diabetes at all and my kidney function is fantastic.”

But as an organ transplant recipient, Brad has a compromised immune system which means it is vital that he gets whatever protection he can against illness His kidney specialist advised him to get the COVID vaccination as soon as he could.

Brad said that he did not waste anytime getting vaccinated when he became aware how quickly COVID could spread and its lethal impact on vulnerable patients.

Brad might be legally blind and dependent on artificial legs but this has not prevented him from taking an active role in numerous local, state and national health organisations.

In recent years, with his wife Lorae, he has hosted more than 600 community awareness and education events concerning issues including access to health care, organ donor awareness, disability services and transport. He has received many awards including being made Eurobodalla Citizen of the Year in 2012, appointed as the Queen’s Baton Bearer at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Last year he awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the community. He is an active member of Consumer Health Forum’s Rural and Regional Special Interest Group and is also on the NSW Health Consumers Council.

His extensive involvement in the community has convinced him of the need to get the vaccination message out through the community including GP clinics, shopping centres and pharmacies.

“Word of mouth is a good way to go.”

There may be a small number of people who don’t want to get vaccinated, so a strong community voice advocating for vaccinations is important.

“We need to make sure that the government and everyone understands that through the community voices and community strength people will come together and want to get vaccinated.”

Brads’ experience shows how good health care and modern medicine can save and transform life — a message that should sway those hesitant about the COVID vaccine.

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About the author

Mark Metherell

Mark Metherell joined the Consumers Health Forum of Australia as Communications Manager in February 2013. Previously he was the Canberra based health correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, a position he held since 1999. He was also medical reporter for the Age in the 1980s. In a newspaper career spanning 40 years, he has held a variety of other posts including news editor and defence and foreign affairs correspondent.