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28 September, 2021

Vaccination rates must life in the Cape: CEO

Cape York residents are being urged to take advantage of an extended COVID-19 vaccination program and get immunised as a priority.


“Since our vaccination rollout started in early March, we have been offering our residents multiple opportunities to be immunised at travelling clinics in their home communities,” Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service chief executive Bev Hamerton said.

“Indeed, we extended our rollout into mid-November by adding another 23 catch-up vaccination clinics to our already comprehensive program.

“So please, if you haven’t yet been vaccinated, or have only had one dose of vaccine, take the opportunity over the next few weeks to be fully vaccinated.

“As Queensland, Australia and the world begin to open up, the risk of variants of COVID-19 entering our vulnerable First Nations communities will increase steadily.

“Being fully vaccinated offers the highest level of protection, both against being infected and in helping minimise the seriousness of any illness if you do become infected.

“We need to get to the national target of 80 per cent of the eligible population being fully vaccinated and we are still well short of that throughout our region.

“Everyone aged 12 years and up is eligible to be vaccinated.

“So, don’t hesitate. Get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family, and your community.’’

Ms Hamerton said the health service last week delivered vaccination clinics at Ugar (Stephen), Erub (Darnley) and Thursday islands, as well as at Weipa, Mapoon, Wujal Wujal, Napranum and Laura.

“We had a very good turnout at Wujal Wujal for their first dose clinic, with 67 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 years and over receiving their first dose.

“Unfortunately, the turnout was much lower at Laura, where we also held a first dose clinic, with only 34 per cent of the eligible population coming in for their first vaccination.

“In the Torres Strait, despite three separate clinic visits each to Ugar (Stephen) and Erub (Darnley) islands, and community engagement, the turnouts there continue to be poor.

“So far, despite our multiple clinic visits, and despite only a small population size, only 42 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over on Ugar has taken up the first dose of vaccine and only 30 per cent has had both doses.

“On Erub, 45 per cent of the eligible population has taken up the first dose of vaccine and 29 per cent their second dose – again despite three separate clinic visits, including a two-day catch-up clinic last week.

“Many other communities in the Torres Strait are doing much better than this and I commend them for their good response to our clinics.

“But we really need every community in the Torres Strait to come forward in good numbers to ensure maximum protection and continuing safety for everyone.

“We are also finding that right across the region, whether this is in the Torres Strait or Cape York, we are getting higher turnouts at clinics for the first dose of vaccine but – with some exceptions – much lower turnouts for our second dose clinics.

“I want to emphasise that you really must have that second dose for maximal protection.”

Ms Hamerton said after last week’s clinics, the health service’s vaccination rates at Weipa for the eligible population aged 12 years and over stood at 65 per cent for first dose and 55 per cent for second dose.

At Mapoon, the rate was 51 per cent first dose and 32 per cent second dose; at Napranum it was 46 per cent first dose and 25 per cent have had both doses.

“Cape York has seen 50 per cent of the total estimated eligible population aged 12 years and over receive their first dose of vaccine, with 32 per cent now fully vaccinated,” the CEO said.

“We hope these percentages will improve as our vaccination teams continue delivering clinics.”

If there is another clinic planned for your community you can book an appointment by calling (07) 3497 3442.


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