Deer Park vaccine hub opens

Tara Murray and Goya Dmytryshchak

A new community vaccination centre in Deer Park has started administrating COVID-19 vaccinations.

The state government said the centre is one of five set up in targeted areas to vaccinate those most vulnerable to coronavirus.

As of January 31, 2215 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Brimbank – the second highest number of cases in the state behind Wyndham (2268).

The centres will focus on people living in public housing and included in first two phases of the roll-out.

IPC Health is running the Deer Park centre in conjunction with the Department of Health.

IPC Health chief executive Jayne Nelson said they understand the community’s need for access to COVID vaccinations and IPC Health is very supportive of any plans for further suitable vaccine sites across Melbourne’s west.

Mobile vaccination vans will be used to provide outreach, partnering with local organisations and workplaces across the state.

The five community centres have been set up alongside two new-high volume centres at the Melbourne Showgrounds and at Mercure Ballarat.

The new centres come as a prominent GP says the slow vaccine roll-out to some of the hardest hit COVID-19 areas in Melbourne’s north west continues to be an issue.

Australian Medical Association state council chair, Mukesh Haikerwal, said the logistics of getting the vaccine into doctors’ fridges was an ongoing problem.

He said the number of practices being asked to administer the vaccine was limited.

“Instead of the 8600 around the country, there’s only 4600 who are destined to do it,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“And out of the 4600, at the most only half will be ready to start receiving vaccines.

“We should be using as many [practices] as we can but we’re not.”

Dr Haikerwal labelled as “atrocious” the lack of vaccinations for residents and staff in some aged care facilities.

“There’s no residents that can’t have the vaccine from AstraZeneca because it’s safe in older people, so that’s what they should be provided with,” he said.

“And the staff in the aged care facilities, if they are eligible for AstraZeneca they should have it.

“If they’re not eligible, then they obviously will have the other vaccines when they become available.”

He said for staff aged under 50, it was “a problem”.

“This is a setback because the main vaccine that we’re depending on is deemed the wrong vaccine for people 50 and under, and that’s a decision we have to abide by our own people who are very expert in this.

“That is going to dent some confidence in the system.”