Proserpine Hospital staff rolled up their sleeves to receive the COVID-19 vaccination today.
Mackay Hospital and Health Service is vaccinating healthcare workers and emergency service workers at all rural hospitals this month.
Medical Superintendent Dr Shaun Grimes said it was a red-letter day for staff who lined up at 8.30am eager to be vaccinated.
A total of 70 were vaccinated on the first day in Proserpine.
“We have been waiting for this day since the start of the pandemic so by 8.30am there was long queue for vaccinations,” Dr Grimes said.
“Early on in the pandemic the Whitsundays had returned overseas travellers who were COVID-19 positive and were cared for by our hospital.
“We’ve also swabbed more than 1700 people for COVID-19 in our emergency department and in pop up clinics at Airlie Beach, so it is important that our staff have the opportunity to vaccinate,” he said.
Dr Grimes said today was the first step towards protecting the wider Whitsunday community from COVID-19.
“We would encourage all eligible people to be vaccinated through their GP and as it becomes more widely available as part of the national roll-out.
“I think everyone is looking forward to getting through this pandemic without further harm to our community and to enjoying a new life on the other side of COVD-19.”
COVAX lead and Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Julie Rampton said Dysart and Moranbah hospital staff would also be offered their vaccination this week.
Emergency service workers are also being vaccinated by the Mackay HHS.
The rural rollout continues next week with Collinsville and Bowen coming online and Clermont the following week.
“By the end of the month all frontline healthcare workers in the Mackay HHS will have had the opportunity to receive their first vaccination,” Ms Rampton said.
“We will be offering multiple opportunities at each hospital in the coming weeks and months to ensure everyone has the opportunity to vaccinate.”
To date the Mackay Base Hospital and the CQU City clinic have vaccinated 1580 people along with 63 at Sarina Hospital.
Ms Rampton said vaccinating the health care workers was a great step towards protecting the wider Mackay HHS community.
She said the vaccine offered an essential safeguard for these people.
The broader community will be vaccinated in line with the national rollout and will be notified when it is time for them to book their vaccine.
“It continues to be important to follow basic infection prevention measures such as social distancing and staying home if you are sick and getting tested if you have the symptoms of COVID-19,” she said.