MELBOURNE, Australia — Three Victorian mass vaccination hubs will open to people over 70 as Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton prepares to get his Covid-19 jab.
The Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and Geelong’s former Ford factory from April 21 will provide shots for anyone over 70 with or without bookings as part of phase 1a and 1b of the rollout.
“This is one way that we can expedite the vaccine rollout, as quickly as possible, particularly to our most vulnerable cohort,” Acting Premier James Merlino said on April 20.
They will only be offered the AstraZeneca jab, with Pfizer doses still prioritized for healthcare workers under 50 at hospital vaccination clinics.
Despite concerns about the potential side effects, Merlino claimed there had been an uptick in calls to the health department from older Victorians wanting to have the AstraZeneca jab.
“I see that as a positive sign,” he said. “We did take a hit to public confidence in our vaccination program. But we see, particularly in older Victorians, them coming forward and being very keen.”
Victoria is also resuming its rollout of the AstraZeneca shot to eligible people under 50 after it was paused on April 9, as Australian health officials confirmed a link between the vaccine and rare but potentially deadly blood clots.
Those under the age of 50 will be required to sign a consent form, which outlines the risks of taking the vaccine.
Sutton will receive his first vaccination on April 21 at the Royal Exhibition Building. He praised the hard work of authorities to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine to the highest safety standards.
He wrote a post on Twitter about him getting vaccinated. “Our health services have worked hard to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine to the highest safety standards. The risk of severe adverse events is rare, which is why I’m getting my vaccination. The best vaccine to get is the one available right now,” he tweeted.
After getting his vaccine jab, he tweeted again, expressing his gratitude towards staff. “Don’t know what you call a selfie post-vaccine. But here’s my #vaxxie, and I couldn’t be happier. Caring, professional, and efficient approach of everyone at the Royal Exhibition Buildings, especially the staff. Thank you!” his tweet read.
The state is currently receiving about 14,000 Pfizer doses per week. It is hoped a further 10,000 doses will soon be made available by the federal government each week.
Victoria had administered 168,250 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Monday, including 4205 in the past 24 hours.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Pallavi Mehra. Map by Urvashi Makwana)