Greater vax access for First Nations people

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Indigenous Environmental Health Project Officer, Clayton Abreu, giving the thumbs up to being vaccinated.

Indigenous Environmental Health Project Officer, Clayton Abreu, giving the thumbs up to being vaccinated.

First Nations people are being given more opportunities to receive their COVID-19 jab as part of a series of new initiatives to boost the vaccination rate in Far North Queensland.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) is partnering with the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service to go door-to-door in Yarrabah from Monday to Wednesday next week (October 11-13) to help boost community uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.

CHHHS executive director COVID-19 vaccine program, Dr Don Mackie, said the Health Service would also provide a pop-up vaccine clinic at this weekend’s Cairns and District Rugby League grand final at Barlow Park, when Yarrabah takes on Innisfail.

‘We have also launched a shuttle bus service, to transport local vulnerable groups to the mass vaccination hub at the Cairns Convention Centre for the remainder of our mass vaccination event,’ Dr Mackie said.

‘We have been looking at many different ways of boosting the vaccination rate in our First Nations communities, and these are just some of the short-term initiatives we are rolling out.

‘We know that due to a higher incidence of chronic and underlying conditions, First Nations people are more likely to develop serious illness if they are infected with COVID-19.

‘Vaccination offers the best protection against COVID-19.’

In the Cairns and Hinterland HHS region, nearly 11,000 COVID-19 vaccinations have been delivered to those identifying as First Nations people, with nearly 5000 receiving double doses of the vaccine.

Dr Mackie said to date, nearly 65 per cent of the eligible population in the Cairns and Hinterland had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

‘If we were to have a COVID-19 outbreak in our region, it is our First Nations people and other vulnerable groups that are most at risk of serious illness.

‘This can be significantly minimised by having as many people vaccinated against this virus as possible.’

CHHHS’ COVID-19 vaccination program director, Kelly Pollock, said the mass vaccination hub at the Cairns Convention Centre had been a great success since it started, but unvaccinated people needed to be targeted where they work, live and play.

‘We have had more than 12,000 people vaccinated at the Cairns Convention Centre in the month its doors have been open,’ she said.

‘The centre needs to revert to its regular function, and we will be announcing our plans going forward shortly.

‘Our priority at the moment is ensuring people who really need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are being given every opportunity to receive their jab.

‘COVID-19 is on our doorstep, and we are committed to getting vaccines into as many arms as possible.’

Anyone aged 12 or over is now eligible to receive the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine at a Queensland Health vaccination location.

Walk-ins are welcome at all CHHHS sites, however those wanting to secure an appointment time can register at