MILDURA Mayor Jason Modica has lead by example, having his fist dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the MDAS Medical Centre last Friday morning.

And now Councillor Modica is encouraging everyone in the community who is able to have the vaccine administered, to do so as soon as possible.

“I certainly would like to see everyone vaccinated. Having to live in this situation with COVID for more than 15 months, we now have vaccines available and so it’s good that people step forward to have their vaccination,” he said.

“And once we are all vaccinated, the lockdowns will hopefully become less and less, because it has very much affected our community and how we go about our business.”

Councillor Modica said that when you look at what’s happening in Sydney and parts of regional NSW, it demonstrates the challenges governments have in dealing with the Delta variant.

“There are a couple of different political views you can take, but Victoria held case numbers down after they were very high,” he said.

“However, the numbers coming out of NSW have been huge and it has got into the far west and there are some vulnerable communities out there who need a lot of support and I believe that’s happening now.

“The reality is that in Mildura we have only had seven cases over the last 15 months but what’s happening in western and central NSW is an issue.

“And based on what we are seeing in Victoria, I hope that we don’t remain in lockdown beyond the planned period however, that will be predicated on the number of cases and the Mildura Rural City Council and the Murray River Group of Councils and other rural and remote regional Councils have really put pressure on to have a some nuance in regard to the lockdowns if they aren’t any cases and we will still put that case forward.”

In opening up their vaccine hub to the entire community MDAS is providing further opportunity for people to have their vaccination, joining the other vaccination locations in Mildura which now includes selected pharmacies.

MDAS CEO Jacqualyn Turfrey said that her organisation isn’t under any restriction in regard to the choice of vaccine they are able to provide.

“We are able to offer AstraZeneca or Pfizer to anyone from the age of 12 and up. If we have people over the age of sixty who want to have the Pfizer we are giving it to them,” she said.

“Our theory in opening our hub, is that the more of the general community members who are immunised, the safer everybody is.

“And in particular by opening up the age group availability to the rest of the community, you tend to then capture the clusters of kids, who quite frankly are the ones who congregate together.

“They go to school, they play closely together, they work closely together.

“In our view, this offers broader protections for our vulnerable community members, who for medical reasons, can’t be vaccinated and we still also have people who are reluctant to come and get vaccinated at this point, and so the more people we can get vaccinated, the less risk there will be presented to the rest of the community.”

Ms Turfrey said that MDAS is only constrained in the administering of the vaccine by their capacity to provide the number of qualified medical personnel to carry out the vaccinations.

“We don’t have enough nurse immunisers and we are working with the State Government who are doing their best to find us some short term placements,” she said.

“They could come up to Mildura for six to 12 weeks and we have asked them for four more nurse immunisers to help us.

“We can then bring some of our staff, who would otherwise be servicing Aboriginal clients in this clinic, back into the medical centre for them to be able to continue to provide their services.

“We have excellent facilities at MDAS and I have a fantastic team they are putting in some super long hours to get through as many vaccinations as possible, whilst we are still trying to support our own community for their medical and health needs.”

Prior to administering the vaccine to the mayor, MDAS General Practitioner Dr Anand Patel said that since the vaccination clinic opened it has been a busy time for him and his fellow team members.

“It has been very busy, but at the same time very rewarding to see people coming forward to be vaccinated. It is very humbling to see the entire region getting behind this vaccination drive,” Dr Patel said.

“We have seen a lot of interest for our vaccination clinic, which is really good to see, because I firmly believe that this is the only way to ensure that we get on top of this pandemic.”

MDAS Acting Assistant Director of Health and Clinical Services Zah Thebe said that there had been an immediate response from people in the local community who want to be vaccinated.

“So far this week we have carried out 750 vaccinations and there are 140 booked for today, including the Mayor, taking the total number of jabs to approximately 2400 since we commenced administering the COVID vax last week,” Ms Thebe said.

“The uptake of those wanting to be vaccinated has seen our booking filled up to October and after that we will be booking people in for their second doses.”

To book your vaccination at MDAS call 1800 183 593.

ABOVE: MDAS CEO Jacqualyn Turfrey with the mayor.