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Vaccine hope

COVID-19 vaccinations could be given to some Portland healthcare workers in the first week of March.

They will be the first people to receive one of two vaccines as part of a five-phase vaccination rollout plan beginning in Australia at one of more than 1000 vaccination administration sites from as early as this month.

The vaccine is expected to be made available to immunisers first, however it is not clear exactly where those vaccinations will take place.

At least one priority group vaccination clinic is hoped to begin in Portland sometime during next month.

Barwon Health – based in Geelong – is coordinating the Barwon South West health region’s vaccine rollout across the region including Portland and said they would begin the program once they had received the first available COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech.

“Plans are underway for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in late February to early March 2021,” a spokesperson for Barwon Health said.

“The priority for access will be in accordance with Commonwealth guidelines beginning with immunisation team members, quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers, and staff and residents in aged care and disability care.”

Portland’s Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service (DWECHS) Clinical Supervisor Lynne Peters said she would be delivering the vaccine when it was made available and would be doing the specific training required ahead of its delivery.

DWECHS may be able to establish a vaccination clinic during March if the demand is there, she said.

She is preparing to ask DWECHS clients – particularly elderly community members - who would like to receive the vaccine to ensure they ordered the correct amount.

She is also learning what procedures will need to be followed.

“There are a lot of protocols we have to go through.”

People would have to wait at the service for up to 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine to ensure there were no adverse reactions, so they would need to plan how to manage the flow of patients, for example.

In the meantime, she has indicated her interest in receiving the vaccine as a health worker and is expecting that may be made available by March 6.

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