Ipswich ‘left out’ of first stage of vaccine rollout
THERE is no word yet on when Ipswich aged care residents will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with the region not included in the list of places which will get the long-awaited jab first.
Nurse Zoe Park, 25, became the first person in Queensland to receive the vaccine on the Gold Coast on Monday.
Queensland will have two COVID-19 vaccines available; Pfizer from this week and AstraZeneca from early March.
Both are voluntary and free but will require two injections at least several weeks apart.
Those at higher risk of contracting the virus or of getting seriously sick from it are being prioritised in a staged rollout.
This will be followed by those at moderate risk, then the rest of the adult population and children and young adults last.
Frontline health care and quarantine workers and residents in aged and disability care facilities are at the front of the queue.
The State Government says every hospital and health service in Queensland will be providing vaccinations as part of this first phase for health, quarantine and border workers.
The rollout will begin with the Pfizer vaccine at hospitals in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns and the Gold Coast, managed by the State Government.
Vaccinations at disability and aged care facilities are being managed by the Federal Government.
Thousands of residents at more than 240 facilities will receive the vaccine this week in more than 190 areas across the country.
There are no locations in the Ipswich region on that list.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said he was concerned the Federal Government was playing politics in selecting the locations for the first phase and he was “filthy” Ipswich care residents had been “left out”.
There are 13 aged care facilities in his electorate, with 10 of those in Ipswich.
Mr Neumann said local residents would not be transported to other locations to get the jab.
“I’ve raised it with the Federal Government,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to other Federal Labor MPs and they are (concerned too); it seems to be something that’s happened across the country.
“If you look at those locations in Queensland the vast majority are in LNP-held seats.
“There are many communities that could have been chosen for phase 1A located in the provincial electorate of Blair and outer metropolitan electorates in and around the greater Brisbane area such as Oxley and Rankin
“In fact, you need to drive past aged care facilities in those ALP-held federal electorates to get to the communities selected in this phase 1A round, for instance in Toowoomba.
“The Morrison Government needs to be clear about the process used to select these communities.”
A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the selection of sites for week one of the six week aged care rollout were carried out by the Health Department in consultation with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Health Care Australia, Aspen Medical and DHL.
“The assessment was based on the severity risk rating for each aged care facility, the cold chain logistics and ensuring regional and urban aged care facilities were covered in week one and this process will continue for further weeks,” he said.
“Sites around Australia include facilities in a large number of Labor electorates.
“The state Pfizer Hubs were chosen by the Queensland Government.”
A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the Federal Government is in charge of selecting, buying and regulating the COVID-19 vaccines.
“They are also responsible for transporting vaccines to vaccination clinics, specifying priority populations for vaccination and, in Queensland, vaccinating aged care residents and workers, as well as disability care residents and workers,” she said.
“When vaccinations begin for the general population, the Australian Government will also deliver the vaccine to other approved providers, including GPs and pharmacies, across the state.
“The Queensland Government is responsible for administering the vaccine at selected state-run clinics, such as public hospitals, nominated to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Queensland Health is working closely with the Australian Government on the vaccine’s rollout, which must be staged as we receive stocks of vaccine.”
The spokeswoman said vaccine supplies are limited and the priority in the first weeks of the rollout is to those with the highest risk of exposure and those who are at the highest risk of severe disease.
“We want all Queenslanders to have the opportunity to be protected against COVID-19, including our regional, rural and remote communities,” she said.
“The Department of Health is working with all hospital and health services, including Cairns and Hinterland, on planning and preparing for the vaccination rollout.
“As larger supplies of AstraZeneca vaccine become available, expected from mid-to-late March, the vaccination program will be progressively expanded across Queensland.
“People living in Queensland’s regional, rural and remote regions will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest possible opportunity.
“More locations will come online, including more hospitals, and GPs and pharmacies will deliver the vaccine to more Queenslanders, as safety and quickly as possible.”
First vaccine locations in Queensland
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.