Congress has received the first vaccines destined for use in all Congress clinics in Phase 1B of the national vaccine rollout. At Congress, Phase 1B includes staff and Aboriginal people over the age of 18, living in town and Congress-serviced remote communities in Central Australia.
This is very important for Congress, who has been very active in the service delivery, advocacy and public health space since the start of the pandemic.
“We’ve been gearing up for this for some time. We know that vaccines – and community immunity – are the way out of the pandemic, and the only way to keep our communities safe from the virus in the longer term” said Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee.
“The virus is spreading in our closest neighbours and international travel will start again. The virus will come here. The only way to prevent severe illness, hospitalisation and death, especially in vulnerable populations, is for those of us who can be vaccinated to do so as soon as we are able.
“We have always said that this is a whole of community problem that needs a whole of community response. Now, that means it is up to each of us to do the right thing for ourselves and others.
“The potential for devastation in Aboriginal communities without being vaccinated is unimaginable. We would lose our cultural knowledge – our universities.”
Congress is running a dedicated vaccine clinic for Aboriginal people from its Gap Clinic location. Clients can also access vaccinations from other town clinics at particular times and when they come in for routine care. Vaccination for older, vulnerable and less mobile community members is being offered through outreach.
For people living in remote communities with Congress clinics, vaccines are being distributed to the clinics, and will be progressively available within the next two weeks.
Some Congress staff were vaccinated in preparation for the rollout, including registered Aboriginal Health Practitioner (AHP), Lynnette O’Bree. O’Bree, who works as Congress’ AHP Training coordinator was pleased to get the vaccination on Friday.
“Getting a vaccine was really important to me. I have recently gone through some very serious health issues and having this vaccine means that I am taking away the risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 in the future. It means I can travel and live my life as normal.
“It’s also important for our community. Working in Aboriginal community controlled health service, I see so many of our people living with chronic disease. That means the risk of COVID-19 for them is very serious. I’m doing this for me, my family and my community.”
Clients can call 1800 570 688 to make an appointment at the Congress town vaccination clinic. For more information, ask at your usual clinic or visit caac.org.au
Media Contact: Kate Buckland 0408 741 691