10 May 2023

Time to roll up and get jabbed

| Matt Nicholls
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The long-awaited rollout will this week arrive in our part of the world, with teams to visit Lockhart River, Coen and Kowanyama.

Next week, a major vaccine hub will pop up at the Weipa storm surge shelter, with smaller teams making visits to Napranum and Mapoon.

Weipa Town Authority chair Michael Rowland said he was genuinely concerned about the health of Cape residents if COVID-19 was to make its way here.

“The vulnerability of our communities hasn’t changed,” he said.

“If you haven’t made a booking to get your vaccine, please go ahead and do it now to protect you, your family and your neighbours.

“If COVID-19 were to get in our communities it would be devastating and we don’t have the health facilities to support them.”

Bookings can be made for all Cape York vaccination clinics by phoning (07) 3497 3442.

Weipa residents have been waiting for months to be able to access the Pfizer vaccine and the response has been strong when it comes to early bookings.

“We have already had more than 700 bookings for our first week at Weipa and good bookings for our other upcoming Cape York community clinics,” Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service CEO Bev Hamerton said.

“The storm surge shelter clinic at Weipa will be one of our largest clinics to date and we will have an expanded vaccination team of 18-20 clinicians, health workers and administration personnel on-site, including double the usual number of vaccinators, to help get people through as quickly as possible.”

The Torres Cape Indigenous Council Alliance last week discussed a regional response to the threat of COVID-19 to communities across Cape York and the Torres Strait in the wake of positive cases in Cairns.

Local governing authorities that make up the alliance ask that anyone planning to visit the Cape and Torres Strait for non-essential matters reconsider the need to travel at this time.

This includes government agencies, non-government organisations and others with non-urgent business in the region.

“In today’s world meetings can be moved online via platforms such as Zoom and Teams if there is no particular requirement for a face to face meeting,” TCICA chair and Lockhart River mayor Wayne Butcher said.

“If in doubt about your need to travel, please contact the relevant council for advice and guidance.”

TCICA also asked tourists in the region to be aware of the vulnerabilities of local people and take a sensible and cautious approach when entering or transiting through communities.

The lockdown in Cairns is sure to put a strain on services in the remote communities as they rely on fly-in workers to arrive each Monday.

As the situation is changing rapidly, Cape York Weekly suggests checking the Queensland Health website and our Facebook page for the latest news.

Authorities have confirmed the link between a reef pilot and a Cairns taxi driver who both tested positive to COVID in Cairns, plunging the city into a snap lockdown.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the pilot travelled in the taxi of a cab driver who tested positive on Saturday.

The reef pilot who tested positive in Cairns last week had an unknown strain of the Delta variant and genome sequencing has confirmed the taxi driver is linked.

Chief health officer Jeannette Young said authorities were now scrutinising all the contacts and exposure sites of the taxi driver and reassessing all contacts of the reef pilot.

If you are feeling unwell, arrange to get tested and isolate until you receive the results.

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