Federal Member for Eden-Monaro, Kristy McBain, said she is “shocked and concerned” to learn there is no designated COVID-19 vaccination hub in Eden-Monaro for the first phase of the national vaccine rollout.
Some Eden-Monaro frontline workers may be forced to travel up to seven hours (round trip) to Canberra to receive the COVID vaccine.
“It means 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,” Ms McBain said.
“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.”
Both of Australia’s chosen COVID vaccines, AstraZeneca and Pfizer, have now been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and a national rollout is expected to start within weeks.
“It’s very reassuring to know that the COVID-19 vaccine has finally arrived in Australia, but regional communities shouldn’t be disadvantaged,” Ms McBain said.
“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.”
Ms McBain said she was concerned about the cost and workplace health and safety of travelling workers along with the “stress” it placed on our “most fragile” people.
“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,” she said.
“Are our elders and those with a disability going to be able to travel to Canberra?
“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.”
Commonwealth Health Minister Greg Hunt did not respond to CW’s questions regarding the reasoning behind Eden-Monaro being left out, and plans for future inclusions in vaccination hubs or to ensure the safety of the vulnerable elderly citizens who may not be well enough to travel.
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