By Luke Voogt
More than 100 Geelong healthcare workers are set to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine next Monday, Barwon Health has confirmed.
Workers from “high risk areas” including emergency departments and intensive care units at University Hospital Geelong, Epworth Geelong and St John of God will be the first to be vaccinated.
“Staff and residents in Barwon Health’s aged care facilities will also receive the vaccine next week,” said Eugene Athan, director of Barwon South West Public Health Unit.
“Our public health unit has been working towards this day for many weeks now and we are confident the vaccination program will run smoothly on Monday.
“Initially, around 2000 people will receive vaccinations in the first phase of the Pfizer rollout over the coming weeks at Geelong and via an outreach model in Portland.”
The vaccine will go to those most at risk of contracting COVID-19 or most vulnerable to its symptoms, Professor Athan explained.
“The vaccine has been rigorously tested and is proven to be safe and effective at preventing serious illness and death related to COVID-19.”
Initial priority groups will also include border and port workers, and frontline health professionals working in acute wards, immunisation, COVID-19 testing and aged care facilities.
The confirmation comes after Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday announced hubs administering the vaccine would open at University Hospital Geelong and three Melbourne hospitals next week.
The hubs will be part of phase 1A of the Commonwealth’s rollout of the vaccine beginning next Monday, Mr Hunt announced.
Aged care and disabled residents at homes in Drysdale, Lara, Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale and Portarlington will also begin receiving the jab.
Recipients will need two injections to obtain a vaccination certificate, with a follow-up booking required after the first immunisation.
Barwon South West Public Health Unit plans to establish more vaccination centres for the broader community once the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine becomes available.
The vaccine, which is less effective but easier to store than its Pfizer counterpart, will be administered as part of later phases of the Commonwealth’s rollout.