CHHHS celebrates 12 months of being on the road with COVID-19 vaccines

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A mobile clinic administering COVID-19 vaccines to Far North Queenslanders has travelled the equivalent of four laps across Australia in just one year.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service’s COVID-19 mobile vaccine clinic aka ‘COVan’ has chalked up nearly 16,000km since it was launched 12 months ago, on 17 May 2021.

During this time, the COVan has administered more 13,585 doses of the COVID-19 across 72 sites of the COVID-19 vaccine to people living in all corners of the Cairns and Hinterland HHS region.

CHHHS Executive Director Medical Services, Dr Don Mackie, said the mobile service - which included two specially fitted out motorhomes – had operated more than 100 clinics since it first hit the road.

‘We were the first Hospital and Health Service to establish a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic, and the feedback we have received from communities across the Far North was that they really appreciated the efforts our teams went to, to ensure we had maximum COVID-19 vaccination coverage across our vast region,’ he said.

‘Our teams have travelled the length and breadth of our patch, and ensured that no matter where people live, they have protection against the COVID-19 virus, whether they are a nurse in one of our rural clinics, or a ringer on a cattle station.’

Dr Mackie said with COVID-19 cases trending downwards across the region, CHHHS was reviewing the need for mobile clinics.

‘We are currently in the process of winding down our COVID-19 operations, including our testing and vaccination clinics, and returning our staff to their usual roles,’ he said.

‘We will retain an ability to stand up clinics, as required.’

CHHHS COVID-19 vaccine director Kelly Pollock said the COVan was due to head west to Ravenshoe, Mt Garnet and Herberton this week, and Tully next week.

‘COVID-19 hasn’t gone away in Far North Queensland,’ she said.

‘Even though more than 94 per cent of our region have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, it is still important that people get their vaccinations up-to-date to protect vulnerable individuals in our communities.

‘COVID-19 vaccinations are available at a wide range of State clinics, GPs and pharmacies.

‘You can find your nearest clinic by heading to the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder.’

Mrs Pollock said influenza vaccines were also available for ‘at risk’ people at CHHHS’ main vaccination hub at The Pier Shopping Centre, and at Atherton, Innisfail, Mareeba, and Mossman hospitals.

‘Flu cases have been increasing rapidly in Far North Queensland, so we are urging people to get their flu shots as soon as possible,’ she said.

‘The influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be co-administered on the same day, with flu shots available for those aged 6 months and older and COVID-19 jabs available for those aged 5 years and over.

‘Flu shots are free for those eligible, and COVID-19 vaccines are free for all.’

Flu vaccination is strongly recommended, and available free of charge, to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older.

Flu vaccinations are also available at your GP and many pharmacies.

Visit the Queensland Health website for more info on the 2022 influenza vaccine.

Operating locations and times for other Cairns and Hinterland Hospital Health Service clinics offering the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be found on our vaccination page.