The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service is this week opening its second major COVID-19 community vaccine centre, at James Cook University’s Nguma-bada (Smithfield) campus.
The new clinic, which has opened this week in JCU’s A2 block, will increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of Cairns’ northern beaches area.
Dr Don Mackie, who has been newly appointed to the role of the CHHHS executive director of COVID-19 vaccination program, said the new clinic was opening as the Health Service had administered more than 55,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is a tremendous milestone for the Health Service since our vaccination program began in February,” he said.
“There have been really good numbers of people getting vaccinated at the Cairns South Health Facility, which has served as the first major community vaccine centre in the region.
“We have also been receiving feedback from the community about a need to have a vaccine site located on Cairns’ northern beaches, with people reportedly driving north to Mossman Hospital for their COVID-19 vaccine, since the hospital two weeks ago began as a Pfizer site.
“There is clearly a lot of people wanting to protect our communities from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, and we thank them for doing the right thing.
“This new clinic will make the vaccine more accessible and help us provide the vaccine to a larger cross section of Cairns.”
CHHHS COVID-19 vaccination program director Kelly Pollock said the new clinic at JCU will initially be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Bookings are essential and no walk-in appointments will be available at the new clinic. The centre has ample parking on site.
“Once we have increased vaccine supply and adequate staffing numbers, we may look to extend the operating days of our newest clinic,” she said.
“In the meantime, we are treating this as a soft opening, just to meet the demand we have been seeing on the northern beaches.”
She said the clinical space at JCU would benefit both the Health Service and the university.
“Since we put the word out a couple of months ago for retired doctors and nurses, and student doctors and nurses to assist with our vaccination program, we have received dozens of applications,” she said.
“We want to thank everyone for their keen interest in helping us get the COVID-19 vaccine into as many arms as possible.
“One way of doing this is by partnering with JCU, whereby JCU medical and nursing students will eventually be recruited to our vaccination team to assist at the clinic alongside CHHHS clinicians, serving as a student model.”
She said Cairns Hospital's vaccine centre was being prioritised for our staff, and anyone who may need to be vaccinated in a hospital setting due to any medical requirements, such as those with complex allergies.
“We are encouraging people to register their interest in COVID-19 vaccinations online at https://www.vaccinebookings.health.qld.gov.au or call 1800 861 863,” she said.
“You can also get vaccinated at participating GPs and at an approved GP-led respiratory clinic or Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Service, such as Wuchopperen Health Service.
“If you need help in finding your nearest clinic or information on how to book, call 13 COVID.”