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COVID vaccine now available at Cape York pharmacy

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By MATT NICHOLLS

CAPE York residents and tourists aged over 50 will be able to get their COVID-19 vaccination in Weipa starting this week.

LiveLife Pharmacy Weipa is one of the select regional pharmacies to have been approved for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Pharmacist Sam Harbison said it was good news for Weipa and Cape residents, as well as tourists, who were keen to get their jabs.

“It’s only for people aged over 50 but you can come in to the pharmacy and get your first dose,” he said.

“It’s completely free and you can walk in and get it done.

“However, we do encourage bookings as they will be given priority if there is a wait.”

The Pfizer vaccine is coming to the Cape for all residents, including those aged over 50, but not until August.

Aged care residents and staff at Weipa Hospital will get their doses of Pfizer this month, with the vaccine to be administered from June 21-25.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service executive director of medical services Dr Tony Brown said he understood that locals were keen to get their jabs as quickly as possible.

“I am sure they will understand we had to start in the Torres Strait first due to the growing risk posed by COVID-19 spreading from Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“As the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area rollout is completed, we will move our vaccination program south.

“All Cape York residents will be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine, which is recommended for everyone aged 16 years and over.

“Weipa, Cooktown and Cairns will be used as the main hubs for the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine to immunisation teams working in the remote communities. We will have special Pfizer freezers located at Weipa and Cooktown to help facilitate the delivery of vaccines to our Cape York communities.

“New guidelines from the Therapeutic Goods Administration advise that the Pfizer vaccine is stable enough to store for up to 31 days in a normal temperature fridge after being thawed.

“This flexibility in storage temperature is more than sufficient to allow us time to distribute to our Cape York communities and safely complete the vaccination program within the recommended timeline.’’

Dr Brown said everyone would require two doses of Pfizer vaccine to be fully protected and these needed to be a minimum of 21 days apart.

“With the influenza season now in full swing, I’d like to remind Cape York residents they must also have a one-week gap – not two weeks as previously recommended – between having the COVID vaccination and any other vaccine, including the seasonal flu vaccination,’’ he said.

“Cape York residents should be looking at booking in their flu vaccination in the coming weeks to ensure they have a one-week break before lining up to have their COVID vaccination from mid-August.’’

“Australian health authorities also have just released a recommendation that pregnant woman can now receive the Pfizer vaccine so we encourage pregnant women to come forward so they and their unborn child can be protected from COVID-19.”

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