Why Queensland urgently needs mass vaccination hubs
Mass vaccination campaigns fast track vaccination rates and - crucially - build community solidarity and trust in the vaccine distribution system.
The World Health Organisation recommends mass vaccination campaigns, irrespective of COVID-19 transmission rates. In other words - if a government has the capacity to safely roll out mass vaccination programs they should.
Queensland has this capacity.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian explained the New South Wales government's move to introduce a vaccine hub because there is a "sense of urgency" in the state.
The sense of urgency should be felt Australia-wide.
Indeed, Australians feel the sense of urgency, which is why local GP clinics have more vaccination demand than they can supply.
This is why Sydney's Homebush stadium yesterday had a steady supply of some 2000 people, eligible under phase 1b, turning up for the vaccine between 8am and 8pm.
The urgency felt by Australians should compel all states and territories, including Queensland, to adopt mass vaccination sites.
Australia's COVID vaccination schedule is behind the federal government's original projection.
There is a need to dramatically upscale vaccine supply in conjunction with vaccination distribution campaigns. There are populations in the phase 1a and 1b groups who remain unvaccinated.
Less than 10 per cent of residents living in homes for disability care have been vaccinated.
The vaccination rates also remain in the single digits for disability care workers.
Demands to open international borders are understandable, but carry dangers when our vaccination rate is below 10 per cent.
There are no immediate economic gains to be had when we need 85 per cent of our population to be vaccinated to ensure herd immunity.
Hospitals will be overrun, infections will rise, and communities will suffer.
A mass vaccination campaign of the scale required to secure COVID-19 herd immunity cannot rely on our existing public health care models.
Vaccine uptake on this scale requires more than the visit-to-doctor model currently advocated.
The COVID-19 vaccination program is no childhood immunisation scheme - it is on the scale of running a federal election.
Just as every adult needs to vote, the vaccination program needs to be a mass gathering exercise where there is the local distribution of sites managed across the country to ensure every adult, if they want, is vaccinated to establish herd immunity.
This requires a dedicated team to manage the program consistently for its duration; and an end to the start, stop, start process with local clinics being overwhelmed.
As the experience from the Israel, United Kingdom and the United States mass vaccination hubs have proven, the hub model provides an opportunity for consistent "whole of vaccination" delivery service from training, to staffing, to post-vaccine treatment, and, crucially, community buy-in.
Hubs provide the opportunity for local connection and local buy-in.
The United Kingdom model has shown how hubs can "teach" their community and become a familiar site for those who are feeling vaccine hesitant.
With more vaccine uptake, hubs can take advantage of random "drop-ins" and promote a sense of collective community achievement.
States and territories can provide the hub model, but they can't do this alone. Queensland can adopt a hub model, but it needs surety of vaccine supply.
The adoption of mass vaccination hubs needs to be met with federal government leadership in securing consistent vaccine supply so that the momentum for mass vaccine uptake can be realised when a hub arrives near you.
Sara E Davies is a Professor at Griffith University's School of Government and International Relations and is an International Relations Scholar with a specific focus on Global Health Governance
Originally published as Why Queensland urgently needs mass vaccination hubs