10 May 2023

Queensland Health puts Cape on priority list for vaccines

| Cape York Weekly
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Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service chief executive Beverley Hamerton said stocks of the AstraZeneca vaccine were expected to arrive soon on Thursday Island to be used in the first stage of the vaccination rollout in the region.

“Contingent on these stocks arriving over the next few days, we will be able to get our vaccination program under way,’’ she said on Saturday.

“Given the risk of COVID-19 spreading from Papua New Guinea, we will begin vaccinating in the Torres Strait, starting with health service staff and the entire communities of the islands closest to PNG, including Saibai, Dauan and Boigu.

“We will then move progressively to all the other islands and the Northern Peninsula Area.

“Subsequently, the Cape York rollout will begin at Weipa and Cooktown and then spread progressively to all the other communities in the region.

“Throughout the vaccination rollout, we will be offering vaccination to both health care staff and community members at each location.

“Everyone will need to have two doses of AstraZeneca for full protection, with the doses to be several weeks apart.

“Information will be provided to staff and community members as to when they will need to return for their second vaccination.

“We’ve got our processes and systems ready for this vaccine, and our staff will be lining up for the vaccination and showing leadership for their communities to follow suit.’’

Ms Hamerton said the vaccine would be delivered by trained Immunisation teams to each unique community.

Queensland Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Officer Haylene Grogan said she wanted to commend the leadership of the state’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mayors in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and keeping communities safe over the past year.

“I’d also like to commend the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and local hospital and health services for their work over the past year,” she said.

“With our attention now focussed on the vaccination rollout across the state, I encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 18 years and over to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves, their families and communities from the virus.”

TCHHS executive director of medical services Dr Tony Brown will be one of the first to roll up his sleeve and be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine as an example for the rest of the health service and communities.

“In my role, I’ve seen first-hand in my time how much of a difference vaccination can make to keeping people safe and healthy,” he said.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is free, safe, effective and is an important step to take to reduce the serious effects of COVID-19 in people who become infected with the virus.

“Immunisation not only protects your own family, but also others by helping to control serious diseases in our community

“This vaccine effort is the greatest in global history and we only need to look overseas to see the impact COVID-19 is having.

“The vaccine will not be a silver bullet, but rather a new piece of protection. COVID-19 will not be eliminated but we will be better protected and better prepared.

“We ask Torres and Cape residents to continue social distancing, washing their hands, using hand sanitiser, wearing masks when necessary, staying home when sick, and most importantly – getting tested.”

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