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27 March, 2022

Hospital celebrates vaccine success

TWELVE months and 14,000 vaccinations later, staff at Atherton Hospital vaccination clinic have celebrated the success of the program.

Acting Medical Superintendent Craig Fairley (right) and Rachel Bernays, a clinical nurse consultant at Malanda Primary Health Care, were the first people to be vaccinated at the Atherton Clinic when it started a year ago.

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service’s program director Kelly Pollock congratulated the team at the clinic for their hard work and patience in what has been a challenging year as they marked the milestone on Friday.

At its peak, the clinic processed 228 vaccinations in one day. 

“When we started, we expected that maybe we would go for 8 or 12 weeks and vaccinate about 4000 – 12 months later and we have done 14,000 vaccinations,” she said. 

With Atherton the first of the rural clinics to open in Queensland, the team had no idea of the work that lay ahead when they started the clinic. 

“We now have one of the highest vaccination rates on the Tablelands and you should all be proud of that effort that has kept our community safe,” she told the team at an afternoon tea to mark the moment. 

“We did everything we could do to get those rates up – we went to Bunnings, a bull ride, wherever we had to go, we went.” 

Hospital pharmacist Adam Hogan said he was amazed at the extraordinary team approach of everyone involved. 

“We had our highs and lows, but we all worked together, had respect for one another – all while there was enormous amount of pressure,” he said. 

“To think 4000 was our initial estimate and that we actually did 14,000 is just remarkable. 

“To be able to be really responsive to the needs of the community and dealing with the public demands involved is testament to your ability and patience,” he told the gathering. 

“Covid is here to stay and the reason we have had a relatively normal life here is because of the vaccination rate being more than 90 per cent.” 

Ms Pollock said the challenge now was to get children vaccinated, particularly between the ages of 5-11, and to encourage people to get their booster shots. 

“We are at about 66 per cent for the booster shots at the moment,” she said. 

Six-year-old Sophie Wallace had just her second vaccination at the clinic and was invited to participate in the celebrations. 

Dad Matthew said he had not hesitated to get Sophie vaccinated.“We spoke about it as a family and I have some friends in the medical fraternity so I was not concerned about getting her vaccinated,” he said.

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