Calls for more COVID-19 vaccines to be sent to Hume are mounting, with the council urging the state government to allow its staff to vaccinate the community.
As reported by Star Weekly, Hume councillor Naim Kurt said he feared the municipality will remain in lockdown “well into Christmas and the new year” if vaccine supplies are not urgently boosted.
Cr Kurt was one of 34 health, community and faith leaders to sign a statement calling for the state and federal governments to “urgently increase” the supply of, and accessibility to, COVID-19 vaccines – particularly Pfizer – in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
It comes as health department data shows postcode 3064 (Roxburgh Park, Craigieburn, Mickleham and Kalkallo) has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the state – 307.
Four other Hume postcodes are in the top 10. Postcode 3047 – Broadmeadows, Dallas and Jacana – had the fourth highest number of active cases at 150, while there are 88 active cases in 3061 (Campbellfield), 85 in 3048 (Coolarro and Meadow Heights) and 66 in 3059 (Greenvale).
Broadmeadows MP Frank McGuire added his voice to the campaign for more vaccines for Hume today, saying people living in Melbourne’s north should be vaccinated as a priority.
“This region must be a top priority for Pfizer jabs to address the confusion causing the vaccine hesitancy health professionals have identified,” he said.
“The Australian government knew winter was coming but maintained there was no race for vaccines.
“The race has always been to save lives and livelihoods by delivering vaccines with the utmost urgency.”
In a statement, Hume mayor Joseph Haweil called on the state government to allow council staff to assist with vaccinations.
He said the council has trained and experienced nursing staff who are ready to support the vaccination effort.
“There are many touch-points that local government has where we could administer the vaccine to our community such as through the school immunisation program and at Maternal and Child Health Centres,” Cr Haweil said.
“We also have strong knowledge of the community and bi-lingual staff who can connect with residents and improve health literacy.”
Cr Haweil said councils are “ideally placed” to support a more targeted outreach program for the jab.
“The blanket approach to the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is clunky, inconsiderate and unsuitable for many in our community,” Cr Haweil said.
“We’re calling on the Victorian government to allow us to play a part in vaccinating residents.
“We want to make it easier for our community to access the vaccine and we’re in a position to do that.”
Cr Haweil said the council wants the state government to support bespoke arrangements to improve vaccine access, including pop-up vaccination sites in different suburbs, mobile vaccination vans to cater for those without suitable transport option, walk-in arrangements to combat delays, increased capacity and supply at the drive-through clinic at the former Ford factory in Campbellfield, and additional translator supports and mass communication efforts around Hume.
Hume council said it is currently undertaking a range of initiatives to support the community to get vaccinated, including community engagement programs, partnerships with DPV Health and St Vincent’s, and a local COVID-19 vaccine campaign to residents.