Frontline healthcare staff in Maryborough have started to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with a new AstraZeneca hub now online at Maryborough Hospital.
The first hospital staff member to receive the vaccine was emergency department registered nurse Kim Worsley, whose day-to-day role brings her into contact with suspected COVID-positive patients.
This initial phase of the rollout focuses on healthcare and other at-risk workers included the 1a priority group, as defined by the Australian Government, before being extended to other priority groups and the general public.
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Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said it was fantastic to see Maryborough Hospital’s vaccine hub come online, after a successful launch earlier in the week in Bundaberg.
“The assurance and readiness process is necessarily stringent, so it’s important for us to open one hub at a time and ensure we’re taking the time to get all our processes right,” Ms Carroll said.
“We’re thrilled to see vaccinations becoming available to priority workers in Maryborough and we’ll continue working through the process to start vaccinating in other locations across our HHS as soon as we can.”
WBHHS Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Fiona Sewell, who has led WBHHS’s local vaccine rollout effort, said the addition of each hub in Wide Bay meant more people were being given the chance to protect themselves against COVID-19.
“Today’s another great step forward,” Ms Sewell said.
“Next we’ll focus on bringing Hervey Bay online before beginning our outreach visits to our rural facilities, which will significantly increase the numbers of our staff and other local high-risk individuals who will be protected.
“These include healthcare workers in private hospitals, as well as other at-risk workers such as police, paramedics, and other emergency services personnel.”
Wide Bay Public Health Physician Dr Niall Conroy said the establishment of more vaccination hubs in Wide Bay was an important step in the community’s ongoing COVID-19 recovery.
“The vaccine is our best chance at protecting our community and getting our normal way of life back on track, so it’s critical that we can offer this extra level of protection to more of our frontline healthcare workers and other at-risk individuals,” Dr Conroy said.
“While the immediate focus of the rollout is on those most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their day-to-day work, or of suffering severe illness from the virus, I want to reassure everyone that all those who are able to be vaccinated will have the opportunity as soon as possible.
“So it’s important that general members of the community have patience and don’t turn up at our hospitals expecting to receive the vaccine.
“As more supply becomes available, the vaccine will become more widely accessible to the public – including through GPs and pharmacies, which are managed by the Australian Government.”
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Ms Worsley said her motivation for getting vaccinated was to protect herself in her frontline role, and she was keen to see people close to her roll their sleeves up when the time came.
“I’m doing my part to protect myself and help keep our community safe,” Kim said.
“I’d also like to see really strong support for the vaccine among the community, when it’s the right time, so we can get back to life as normal.
“My dad has a chronic lung condition and is elderly, so I’m looking forward to the time when he and other vulnerable people like him have their turn.
“It’s great to see the vaccine rolling out here in Maryborough. We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Maryborough Hospital wardsperson Steven O’Neill – whose role supports frail and elderly patients as part of the Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) program – was also among the first people to be vaccinated alongside Ms Worsley.
“Being on the front line and working with elderly patients in particular means it’s very important to me to get the vaccine,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to being fully vaccinated, to feeling safer, and being able to travel and live life again.”
These frontline workers in priority group 1a will receive their second booster shot in 12 weeks’ time to give them maximum protection.
Further information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available, here.
NOTE: This press release was issued by the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service on Thursday, 11 March 2021.