Airport vaccine hub launched


It was a flurry of action last week at the Melbourne Airport international terminal as Western Health started rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine.

Western Health, one of nine vaccine hubs across Victoria, last week set up a sub-hub at the airport to start vaccinating some of the high-risk, priority recipients.

Vaccine hub unit manager Kylie Roper said there was plenty of mixed emotions.

Western Health nurse Laloma Carstens was the first person to receive the vaccination at the hub, and among the first in the country.

“It was a bit crazy, but absolutely amazing to get things under way,” Ms Roper said.

“Our first vaccine was on Monday just before 9am.

“It was really exciting and it’s been amazing to see an international lounge turned into a hub so quickly.”

Ms Roper said they had about 35 staff members, a combination of administration, pharmaceutical and registered nurses working in the hub each day.

They vaccinated 140 people on the first day, 160 people on the second day with that number increasing across the week.

“We’re vaccinating people working in the red zone, people in international arrivals” Ms Roper said.

“Baggage handlers, booking staff, ground crew and security.”

Ms Roper, who said she had been working from 7am to 6pm most days, said she wasn’t sure of the time frame, but she was hopeful of having the majority of staff in the red zone vaccinated in the next few weeks, including their second dose.

She said it had been a team effort from Western Health, pharmaceutical staff and the airport to get the program up and rolling.

After staff in the red zone have been vaccinated, other airport staff will be next in line.

Western Health’s main vaccination hub will be the ground floor of the multi-deck carpark at Sunshine hospital.

It’s expected vaccines will start at the hospital in the next couple of weeks.

Western Health is also managing a range of other vaccination clinic across the west, including at Werribee Mercy and Djerriwarrh Health.