I am shocked and concerned to learn that there is no designated COVID-19 vaccination hub in Eden-Monaro for the first phase of the national vaccine rollout.
It means that local nurses, doctors, health staff, aged care and disability workers in places like Bega, Cooma, Jindabyne, Narooma, and Tumut have to drive to Canberra to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
For some, that’s a six or seven hour round trip – effectively a day out of their hospital or place of work, a day where our local health system is potentially under increased pressure.
Not to mention the cost and WHS risks to travelling workers.
I am also concerned about the stress this places on our most fragile people. Are our elders and those with a disability going to be able to travel to Canberra?
I’ve raised this with the Health Minister Greg Hunt – asking for a suitable, local solution to be found so that health workers and patients don’t have to carry the extra burden.
It’s very reassuring to know that the COVID-19 vaccine has finally arrived in Australia, but regional communities shouldn’t be disadvantaged.
The first doses will be given to frontline workers from early next week, people like quarantine and border workers, frontline health care staff, and aged care and disability care residents.
These are the people most at risk and people working under extraordinary pressure and I really hope the vaccine brings a sense of relief - as well as protection from the virus.
In the meantime, the wider community continues to do the right thing and follow the health advice, it can be confusing and frustrating I know.
The vaccine will help our resolve and bolster the commitment from the community that has put us in this strong position.
Media enquiries - Ian Campbell, phone 0417 482 171