Primary Healthcare Delivering Vital Services in a time of Great Need for Western NSW
As noted to August 29, 2021 by the Australian Government Department of Health, 65.4% of residents aged 15 and over in the NSW Far West and Orana regions that is covered by the Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) have now received their first COVID-19 Vaccination dose, while 27.2% are now fully vaccinated.
Our region’s current rates of people vaccinated aged 15 and over have risen from 13.4% fully vaccinated and 34.1% receiving first doses before the start of August.
WNSW PHN CEO, Andrew Coe, says it’s pleasing to see vaccination rates exponentially increasing since the start of the current outbreak.
“The current rate of growth in vaccination rates against COVID-19 is really positive, but we’re determined to see that continue to grow at an even faster rate,” said Mr Coe.
“The current rate of growth has been the result of so many of our region’s residents taking advantage of the opportunities opening up as more avenues of accessing higher allocations of vaccinations in our area has become available.”
He added, “While we’re supporting those communities that are of major concern with positive cases, our focus is on increasing rates of vaccination in the population right across the region, especially those eligible under Phases 1a and 1b of the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout, including frontline healthcare workforce, emergency workers, Residential Aged Care Facilities staff and residents and abattoir employees.”
“The work of our region’s General Practice Vaccine Providers in these areas has been instrumental, which, amongst so many achievements, has included the completion of vaccinations for employees of Dubbo’s Fletcher International Exports by Dubbo Medical and Allied Health Group,” said Mr Coe.
WNSW PHN’s work has also been concentrated on getting our region’s Indigenous residents vaccinated, including our collaboration with Wellington Aboriginal Community Health Service to set up the new Wellington COVID-19 Vaccination clinic that commenced operation on Monday last week.
WNSW PHN has been supporting all of our region’s Primary Healthcare professionals who have been working tirelessly to deliver COVID-19 Vaccinations, which has now grown to include 68 General Practices, 21 Pharmacies, 9 COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics and 9 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. Their ongoing efforts and dedication are absolutely integral to the response, management, and delivery of vaccinations against COVID-19 in our region.
Our collaborative efforts across the region have doubled since the current outbreak that has seen such a dramatic surge of positive cases in so many locations. We’re working in partnership with all of our stakeholders to ensure services are maintained for all of our communities, while also working on mobilising additional workforce capabilities and vaccine supply right across our region.
Alongside the Commonwealth Department of Health and NSW Health, to the Far West and Western NSW Local Health Districts, our region’s general practices, Aboriginal Medical Services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, pharmacies, and now the Australian Defence Force, WNSW PHN is absolutely committed to ensuring that our region gets through this current crisis and as many people become fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said it’s great to see all levels of government and key stakeholders working together to ensure our region has access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“I’m pleased to see the number of people right across the region stepping up to get vaccinated in our fight against COVID-19,” Mr Coulton said.
“I encourage everyone eligible to take advantage of the increasing opportunities to get vaccinated, to protect yourselves, your loved ones and your community.
“With COVID-19 now in our regions, it’s more important than ever to boost our rates of vaccination.
“I’d like to thank all of the dedicated healthcare workers and staff on the ground who have been working tirelessly to help keep our communities safe.”
COVID-19 Vaccinations are free, are thoroughly tested for safety before they are approved for use in Australia and are very effective at stopping people from becoming very sick if they catch COVID-19.
Eligibility for COVID-19 Vaccinations is set by the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program.
In Australia, people over 18yrs of age may be eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. The general criteria are:
- It is the preferred vaccine for anyone aged 60 years old or above.
- Anyone aged 18-39 years old should speak to their GP about having this vaccine.
- Anyone aged over 40 years old can receive this vaccine.
In Australia, Pfizer (Comirnaty) is currently offered to:
- People aged 16-59 years old in the general population
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12-59 years old
- Anyone aged over 12 years old from a recognised vulnerable or priority group, such as healthcare workers, aged care workers, disability workers and people with an underlying medical condition or disability.
In NSW, NSW Chief Health Officer, Kerry Chant advises that the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine is now provisionally registered for people aged 12 years and older, however, the eligible cohort currently includes:
- children aged 12-15 years with specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12-15 years
- all children aged 12-15 living in remote communities, as part of broader community outreach vaccination programs. Remote communities are defined as those with a Modified Monash Model (MMM) score of 3 to 7.
All locations within the WNSW PHN region are classified as remote under the MMM classification. Primary Care sites across WNSW PHN, which includes General Practices and COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics, can mirror NSW eligibility requirements, however, priority for vaccination will be given to those most at risk. The Online Vaccine Eligibility Checker will be updated from September 13th to reflect this update.
As the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program continues, even more and younger residents of our region will become eligible. COVID-19 Vaccine eligibility information can be found on the Online Eligibility Checker at https://covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au or by calling Health Direct on 1800 022 222.
People can check the latest accurate, evidence-based answers to questions regarding COVID-19 Vaccines at https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/is-it-true.
Mr Coe urges everyone not already vaccinated in our region to take this important step for their own health and the health of the region.
“We understand that there are residents of our region that may have concerns regarding COVID-19 Vaccines, and we encourage you to talk to your GP or usual healthcare provider, especially if you are unsure about which COVID-19 Vaccine is right for you.”
He added, “To those that are already fully vaccinated or are on their way to becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19, we applaud you and thank you for your commitment to the health of not only yourself but also our region.”
“To those who are yet to start their journey towards protecting themselves against COVID-19, we urge you to make that commitment today. Do it for your community, do it for your family, do it for yourself.”
Bookings can be made online at https://covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au.