Local vaccination roll-out from today

The first Covid-19 vaccinations to be doled out locally in the Snowy Valleys region will begin today (April 1) at 9am at The Connection Medical Centre in Tumut.

Dr Thi Tran said that 100 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered to the practice this week on Monday, and today they will be administering the doses via an in-house vaccination clinic.

The Connection has opted to administer the doses at once on the same day, rather than people coming in intermittently throughout the week. Dr Tran said that this is because it is easier to do it all at once – both in terms of administering the vaccine accurately and allowing time for patients to stay behind for observation after receiving their dose.

She said that this is also how the Connection operates when giving out flu vaccinations.

When asked if this would be a weekly occurrence, Dr Tran said, “No, because I don’t know how much I’m going to get.”

She said that what they receive has to be used before they can request more doses.

“We depend very much on the supply,” Dr Tran said.

“As soon as I have it I have to make the booking so that everyone can come in on the same day and have it together.”

Only those in Phase 1a and 1b of the Australian government’s vaccination rollout plan are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. 

Phase 1a includes frontline healthcare workers, quarantine and border workers, and aged care residents and staff. Phase 1b includes people aged 70 and over, other healthcare workers, Indigenous people over 55, younger adults with underlying medical conditions, and critical and high-risk workers such as defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.

Dr Tran said that those in Phase 1b are having to be prioritised over Phase 1a locally, with most Snowy Valleys healthcare and frontline workers still waiting to be vaccinated.

“We have to use it for group 1b to protect the elderly and people who are sick first, and whenever the vaccination is available for us, we are allowed to have it,” she said.

“If I call all the nurses and all the doctors in [to be vaccinated], is there anything left for the community? So, that’s why we have to think about the other people before us.

“We are the frontline, but [there is] only 100 injections, so what do you expect? How many elderly do we have in town here?”

A waiting list has been set up at The Connection for those eligible who wish to be vaccinated. People will be screened and added to the list, and those who miss out this time will be called when the next dose of vaccinations arrive.

“We’re going to ask for another 100 as soon as we do it tomorrow,” Dr Tran said yesterday.

“As soon as we receive it, we just call the patients [on the list].”

Dr Tran said that the attitude towards the vaccination locally has been positive for the most part, with most people willing to line up for the jab.

“A lot of people are willing to have it – a very small amount, they want to wait a little bit,” she said.

For those who are cautious of the vaccination, Dr Tran said to think about the state of Covid worldwide and the importance of keeping ourselves and each other safe.

“The vaccination is made in Australia, and also a lot of people out in big cities have already had it, and so far, nothing very serious has happened to all of those patients,” she said.

Staff at the Connection are very happy to discuss the vaccination with those concerned as well, Dr Tran added.

“They can come in to consult with us, they can talk with us, and weigh up the risks and the benefits,” she said, saying that it is important to get “the right information from the right people” with so much misinformation online.

“Everywhere it [the information] can be different, and it makes people worry.”