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Mixed successes in push to reach 80 per cent

Image of Advanced health worker Alice Tayley and Wujal Wujal's Lane Hooker

17 September 2021

Torres Strait, Cape York and Northern Peninsula Area residents are being urged to take advantage of an extended COVID–19 vaccination program and get immunised as a priority.

“Since our vaccination rollout started in early March, we have been offering our residents multiple opportunities to be immunised at travelling clinics in their home communities,’’ Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Bev Hamerton said.

“Indeed, we extended our rollout into mid–November by adding another 23 catch-up vaccination clinics to our already comprehensive program.

“So please, if you haven’t yet been vaccinated, or have only had one dose of vaccine, take the opportunity over the next few weeks to be fully vaccinated.

“As Queensland, Australia and the world begin to open up, the risk of variants of COVID–19 entering our vulnerable First Nations communities will increase steadily.

“Being fully vaccinated offers the highest level of protection, both against being infected and in helping minimise the seriousness of any illness if you do become infected.

“We need to get to the national target of 80 per cent of the eligible population being fully vaccinated and we are still well short of that throughout our region.

“Everyone aged 12 years and up is eligible to be vaccinated, including pregnant persons. “So, don’t hesitate. Get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family, and your community.’’

Ms Hamerton said the health service had delivered vaccination clinics this week at Ugar (Stephen), Erub (Darnley) and Thursday islands, as well as at Weipa, Mapoon, Wujal Wujal, Napranum and Laura.

“We had a very good turnout at Wujal Wujal for their first dose clinic, with 67 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 years and over receiving their first dose.

“Unfortunately, the turnout was much lower at Laura, where we also held a first dose clinic this week, with only 34 per cent of the eligible population coming in for their first vaccination.

“In the Torres Strait, despite three separate clinic visits each to Ugar (Stephen) and Erub (Darnley) islands, and community engagement, the turnouts there continue to be poor.

“So far, despite our multiple clinic visits, and despite only a small population size, only 42 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over on Ugar has taken up the first dose of vaccine and only 30 per cent has had both doses.

“On Erub, 45 per cent of the eligible population has taken up the first dose of vaccine and 29 per cent their second dose – again despite three separate clinic visits, including a two-day catch-up clinic this week.

“Many other communities in the Torres Strait are doing much better than this and I commend them for their good response to our clinics.

‘But we really need every community in the Torres Strait to come forward in good numbers to ensure maximum protection and continuing safety for everyone.

“We are also finding that right across the region, whether this is in the Torres Strait, or on Cape York or in the Northern Peninsula Area, we are getting higher turnouts at clinics for the first dose of vaccine but – with some exceptions – much lower turnouts for our second dose clinics.

“I want to emphasise that you really must have that second dose for maximal protection.’’

Ms Hamerton said after this week’s clinics, health service-delivered vaccination rates at Weipa for the eligible population aged 12 years and over stood at 65 per cent for first dose and 55 per cent for second dose.

On Thursday Island, after this week’s catch-up clinic, the health service-delivered first dose vaccination rate stands at 75 per cent and 59 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses.

At Mapoon, the rate is 51 per cent first dose and 32 per cent second dose; at Napranum the rate is 46 per cent first dose and 25 per cent have had both doses.

“Next week, our teams will be visiting Cooktown and Lakeland for their first dose clinics, as well as returning for catch-up clinics at Bamaga and Thursday, Mabuiag, Mer (Murray) and Badu islands,’’ Ms Hamerton said.

“So, if you are in those communities, come and get vaccinated.’’

Currently in the Torres Strait, 69 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 years and over has received their first dose of vaccine, and 54 per cent of people are fully vaccinated with both doses.

“In the Northern Peninsula area, 52 per cent of the eligible population has received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination so far, with 35 per cent fully vaccinated,’’ Ms Hamerton said.

“Cape York has seen 50 per cent of the total estimated eligible population aged 12 years and over receive their first dose of vaccine, with 32 per cent now fully vaccinated.

“We hope these percentages will improve as our vaccination teams continue delivering clinics, including catch-up clinics, across our region.

“We will be offering the Pfizer vaccine to everyone, unless you have already had one dose of AstraZeneca, in which your second dose must be AstraZeneca.’’

Ms Hamerton said all Torres Strait, Cape York and NPA residents could check the ongoing vaccination rollout schedule on the health service’s website.

“If there is another clinic planned for your community you can book an appointment by calling (07)  3497 3442. But you are also welcome to walk in,’’ she said.

“If there isn’t another clinic scheduled for you community you can register your interest by visiting health.qld.gov.au/torres-cape and completing the online form.

“You can also call us on (07) 3497 3442 or speak to your local health facility.’’

Please note: the addition of the 12-15-year cohort into eligible population figures has resulted in small changes to uptake percentages compared to previous reports.

PHOTO CAPTION: Wujal Wujal resident Lane Hooker was immunised at a clinic in his community this week by Wujal Wujal Advanced Health Worker Alice Tayley, who has undertaken her Commonwealth COVID-19 immunisation training to allow her to deliver the vaccine to clinic clients.

Last updated: 24 September 2021