This week, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began across Australia. This will be the largest public health effort in Australian history, and we need to get it right. Australians are relying on us. But, five months since the first vaccine deal and a week into the rollout, there are still very few details.
I'm particularly concerned about access to vaccines for vulnerable people in my community. When hospital hubs were announced, I was immediately asked why the closest were at Hornsby or the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle. When nurses and midwives were notified that they would be among the first to be vaccinated, as frontline workers, they asked why the hubs were at RPA, Westmead and Liverpool. When aged-care facilities listed in week 1 of the rollout are in West Gosford, Point Clare, Umina Beach and Woy Woy, I'm asked: what about aged-care residents living on the north of the coast?
Given the growing concern in my community, where one in five people are aged over 65, and in a region with 26 aged-care facilities, I've raised questions with Professor Brendan Murphy, and I've written to New South Wales health minister, Brad Hazzard. What my community needs is certainty. They need to know when vaccines will be available on the coast, because we all need this to work.