Ford vaccine hub opens

The interior of Geelong new COVID-19 vaccination hub. (Supplied)

By Luke Voogt

Geelong’s mass COVID-19 vaccination hub at the old Ford factory will be unveiled tomorrow with the region’s immunisation program to ramp up dramatically next week.

Barwon Health chief executive Frances Diver today announced the Norlane site would begin operating next Tuesday with the capacity to vaccinate more than 10,000 people a week.

“The … site has the potential to vaccinate more than 2000 people a day, depending on stock supply,” Ms Diver said.

“Dependent on supply, we anticipate it could take around six months to vaccinate everyone in our region.

“We will work with our local healthcare partners to establish other community vaccination hubs and pop-up sites.”

Managed and operated by Barwon Health, the site will cater for high-risk priority groups in phase 1A of the vaccination program, which began last month, along with phase 1B.

This includes healthcare staff, disability workers, and emergency service workers such as paramedics, police, and firefighters.

“The site will open to public appointments at a later date, after vaccine supply is sufficient and final details are released to outline the booking process and prioritisation for various groups,” Ms Diver said.

“The Ford site has a significant place in the history of the Geelong region, so it is fitting that it will play a vital role as the vaccination hub that will help protect our region from COVID-19.”

Barwon Health worked with site developers Pelligra and local contractors to refurbish the site over the past three weeks.

The upgrades include improved disability access, carpeted floors, new bathroom facilities, resurfaced parking, privacy screens and consultation spaces.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 vaccinations in the Barwon South West region surpassed 13,000 yesterday.

The region’s vaccination program is “on target” according to Barwon South West Public Health Unit director Eugene Athan.

“This is a major logistic undertaking with a lot of factors and details to consider, but has overall been very successful so far,” Professor Athan said.

“There have been very few adverse reactions reported.

“In future, the broader community will be able to make appointments at the Ford site, but we thank everyone for being patient as we work through the high priority groups identified by the Commonwealth.”