COVID-19 vax clinics winding down

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Far North Queenslanders have done an exceptional job in getting vaccinated to keep themselves and their community safe against the impacts of COVID-19.

In just over 12 months, more than 95 per cent of Cairns and Hinterland residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 94 per cent have received their second dose (aged 16+).

With most of the regional population vaccinated, the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) will progressively wind down its vaccination centres over the coming months.

CHHHS Executive Director COVID-19 vaccine program, Dr Don Mackie, said the high vaccination rates and the decrease in demand meant it was time to transition to a new ‘business as usual’, which would enable the Health Service to direct resources to where they are needed most.

‘The community will soon start to see our COVID-19 vaccine clinics at our rural hospitals in Mossman, Atherton, Mareeba and Innisfail fold back into our health service, starting after Easter,’ he said.

‘Our main COVID-19 vaccination hub at The Pier shopping centre will be temporarily closed Good Friday, Easter Monday and Tuesday April 19 to give our hardworking staff a much-deserved break.

‘We will then start reducing hours at The Pier to five days a week, commencing Wednesday, 20 April, from Wednesdays through to Sundays.

‘The Pier COVID-19 vaccine clinic will remain in place until it is no longer needed.

‘Free COVID-19 vaccines and boosters will still be available at these locations, and also remain available through participating GPs and pharmacies.’

Dr Mackie said the mobile COVID-19 vaccine service aka COVan would also be eventually wound up.

‘Our COVan, which was the first of its kind in Queensland to provide mobile COVID-19 vaccines, has been on the road for nearly 12 months,’ he said.

‘In that time, it has delivered approximately 7000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents in rural and remote areas.

‘We are expecting the COVan to no longer be required by the June-July school holidays, with future outreach clinics to be held, as needed.’

CHHHS COVID-19 vaccine program director Kelly Pollock said if people needed first, second or booster doses, they should come forward now to receive their jab before services were wound down.

‘We will also communicate any COVID-19 vaccine pop-up and outreach opportunities across the region on our website and social media channels in the coming weeks,’ she said.

‘From 1 April, high-risk people can also have a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, also known as their ‘winter dose’ if it has been more than four months since their first COVID-19 booster dose.

‘While our CHHHS clinics can provide this second COVID-19 booster to eligible people, you also have the option of having your COVID-19 vaccine co-administered (that is, given on the same day) with an influenza vaccine by visiting a participating GP or pharmacy.

‘Vaccination continues to be the best protection against becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 and it is essential that we all remain ‘up to date’ with COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters.’

CHHHS remains ready to scale up community vaccination services if required; and the First Nations team will continue to provide community out-reach as required.

You can find your nearest GP or pharmacy by using the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder.

You can also continue to call 134 COVID to help you find your nearest primary care provider. All four COVID-19 vaccines are available via GPs and pharmacies – Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca and Novavax.