Covid Messages from Russell

COVID Messages from Russell – 3 Feb 2021

February 3, 2021

Western Health to manage a vaccination hub

Today the Victorian Government has announced that Western Health will be one of the three Melbourne metropolitan health services to manage COVID vaccination hubs.

The following paragraphs are contained in the media statement issued today on behalf of the Victorian Health Minister The Hon Martin Foley. (See link here for ABC News coverage of the announcement.)

“The Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccination program will be ready to be rolled out in Victoria for high-risk, priority people at nine suburban and regional health services across the state, as soon as a vaccine is available.

Victorians at greatest risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be provided with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine at hospital vaccination hubs at Western Health, Austin Health, Monash Health, Barwon Health, Goulburn Valley Health, Latrobe Health, Bendigo Health, Ballarat Health and Albury-Wodonga Health.”

In preparation for this, an expert team of Western Health staff have spent a number of weeks overseeing planning, medical guidance, staff recruitment, safety, logistics and infrastructure, under the direction of Executive Director Nursing and Midwifery, Shane Crowe.

Lisa Smith has been appointed as the Project Manager and Dr Michelle Giles will be providing medical expertise. Michelle has a very high level of experience in relation to vaccination programs and is a member of the expert committee advising the Commonwealth Government.

No date has been set for the first round of priority vaccinations, but it is expected to be finalised this month. The Commonwealth advises the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive and be rolled out in mid-late February and this will be the first vaccine available through all of the Victorian hubs.

Australia’s COVID-19 vaccines will be available in phases, with the Commonwealth prioritising groups based on expert medical and public health advice.

Minister Foley’s statement today reiterated the Commonwealth direction for eligibility for the initial vaccinations.

“People eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine as part of Phase 1a include:

•             Quarantine and border workers and all staff working in the hotel quarantine program

•             Frontline at-risk health care workers including hospital staff working in COVID and suspected COVID wards, emergency department and ICU staff, staff at GP respiratory clinics and COVID-19 testing facilities, ambulance staff and paramedics

•             Aged care and disability care staff and residents.”

Vaccinations will be voluntary.

Anyone visiting the Sunshine Hospital site in the last couple of days might have seen a large structure going up in the ground floor of the multi-deck carpark. This will be the location for the vaccination hub on that site. Here is a brief progress video from a day or so ago.

Western Health will also be managing a range of other vaccination clinic locations across the geographic areas within our responsibility. This will enable us to adequately support all eligible staff of the hospitals within our vaccination hub zone, including the Royal Melbourne; the Women’s; the Children’s; Peter Mac, as well as Werribee Mercy and Djerriwarrh. Western is also working with a number of private Hospital providers as well in our cluster/hub to share information with them.

I am pleased to say that through the great work of the team we have been successful in recruiting a large number of nurses to administer the vaccine, as well as other staff who will fill support roles. Recruitment is ongoing, so that we can establish the resources needed.

We have sought out staff with the right skillset who will undertake additional  training in the administration of the different COVID vaccines provided through specific online packages developed by the Commonwealth.

I am grateful to the team for the exceptional amount of work done by all those involved in preparing for Western Health to fulfil this important responsibility as part of the national plan to tackle COVID. I can assure you that we will be well placed to oversee the vaccination hub and I thank all of those involved. I will also continue to keep all staff updated as we get further information.