Cancer patient who fought COVID urges uptake of fourth winter dose


Graham Margetts knows just how life-threatening COVID-19 is.

He suffered with the virus for 10 days, all while enduring the side effects of chemotherapy for stage 4 cancer.

He will have his fourth winter dose of a COVID vaccine – he doesn’t want to get that close to death again.

“I didn’t think that I would actually survive because I was previously told that if I got COVID I might not make it because I had cancer,” the Bass Coast resident said.

“Having a fourth dose of the vaccine is action I can take to reduce my risk of getting COVID again, as well as the complications that it brings. Having this fourth dose will give me peace of mind going into winter.”

A fourth dose of a COVID vaccination is now highly recommended for aged care residents, people living in disability accommodation, and other vulnerable groups considered to be most at risk of serious illness.

These groups include adults aged 65 years and older, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50, and people aged 16 years and older who are severely immunocompromised, such as Graham.

The fourth dose can be given four months after a third dose.

Graham found the experience of living with COVID while fighting cancer - and living by himself - frightening. Not only was his chemotherapy treatment disrupted, but he also suffered shortness of breath, an inability to sleep due to phlegm and felt like he had razor blades in his throat.

“I found out that I had COVID when I woke up at three in the morning and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die,” he said.

He was conveyed to Wonthaggi Hospital via ambulance and stayed there for a day, before returning home under the care of the Hospital In The Home - COVID Home Monitoring Program.

This is delivered by Bass Coast Health as part of the COVID-19 Positive Pathways South Gippsland Coast Partnership comprising BCH, Gippsland Southern Health Service, South Gippsland Hospital and Kooweerup Regional Health Service.

Graham received phone calls from doctors and nurses twice a day to check on his condition, medication and a finger probe so that his blood pressure and heart rate could be monitored by healthcare staff remotely.

He also received medication to reduce his chances of experiencing ongoing COVID symptoms – known as Long COVID.

“The care I received was excellent. They were all very caring and it was reassuring to know they were there looking after me remotely,” he said.