By Luke Voogt
Justine Watts is no stranger to injections as a type 1 diabetic.
The Truganina local joined about 300 healthcare and emergency services workers receiving a jab as the Ford factory COVID-19 vaccination hub opened on Tuesday.
“I inject myself four to five times a day with insulin,” the 29-year-old said after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“So getting one shot in the arm was a piece of cake.”
As of Tuesday health authorities had administered about 14,700 vaccine doses, both Pfizer and AstraZeneca, across the Barwon South West region.
Barwon Health is now inviting high-risk priority groups from the Commonwealth’s 1A and 1B cohorts to get vaccinated at the new hub in Norlane.
These groups include healthcare, disability and emergency service workers, such as paramedics, police, and firefighters.
“I was actually very excited to get it,” said Ms Watts, a dietitian at Barwon Health’s McKellar Centre in North Geelong.
“I was getting it as a healthcare worker yesterday but also as someone who is immunocompromised – as I have type 1 diabetes.
“I felt pretty comfortable and confident.”
Ms Watts was cautious during the pandemic, especially while living in a COVID-19 hot spot during Victoria’s second wave.
“I was very conscious about even things like going to the supermarket, because it was very prevalent around the area that I was living in,” she said.
Ms Watts was pleased to help protect her community, particularly vulnerable groups, by getting vaccinated.
“You don’t know, when people get infected with COVID-19, if they’re going to become critically-ill,” she said.
“Healthy individuals are getting really sick too. We can all play a role in getting vaccinated as an extra layer of protection, as well as what we are already doing.
“It helps you feel a little bit more confident to move around as well.”
Ms Watts acknowledged concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In Europe reports of blood clots range from one in 25,000 vaccine doses in Norway to 1:500,000 in England (30 reports in 18.1 million doses).
The European Medicines Agency is still investigating the link.
The Australian Government plans to continue its rollout pending advice from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
“With all vaccines and even medications there’s always going to be a certain percentage with side effects,” Ms Watts said.
“For me the pros outweigh the cons of getting it.”
Barwon Health plans to scale up vaccination at the hub, currently open only to individuals eligible under phases 1A and 1B of federal government’s rollout.
“We look forward to opening the hub to more groups in our community as the supply is made available,” Barwon Health spokesperson Kate Bibby said.