Risk Hume lockdown stretches into 2022: Councillor

Drive through vaccination clinic at the former Ford factory in Broadmeadows. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 248120_01

Michaela Meade

A Hume councillor fears the municipality will remain in lockdown “well into Christmas and the new year” if vaccine supplies are not urgently boosted.

Cr Naim Kurt is one of 34 people to add his name to 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.

The statement, seen by Star Weekly, has been signed by health, community and faith leaders.

Cr Kurt told Star Weekly his biggest concern was that Victoria would move to LGA-specific lockdowns whilst opening up the rest of Melbourne.

“There is a risk that Hume will remain locked down well into Christmas and the new year, when the rest of Melbourne opens up,” he said.

“This would have a devastating economic and social impact on our community.”

Cr Kurt said only five general practices in Hume were able to administer the jab.

“This is simply not enough,” he said.

“The phone booking system is difficult to navigate for non-English speaking communities, [and] insecure working conditions, misinformation and lack of accessibility to vaccine clinics are all contributing to the lower vaccination rate.

“Also, half of our community has only become eligible to be vaccinated in the past couple of weeks, because of our younger age demographic.

“We need a targeted program which will take vaccines to the people.”

The statement warned that lives will be lost in Hume if vaccine supplies are not improved.

“The vaccination rate in the Hume LGA is now the second-lowest in the state, at a time when it has the highest number of active coronavirus cases in the state,” the statement said.

“This will create enormous pressure on our healthcare system and will cost lives.

“Our GPs need more vaccine supply and resources to administer them and there needs to be a surge in vaccination hub capacity and locations.

“Treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves.”

Calwell MP Maria Vamvakinou echoed the group’s concerns.

“We need a whole-of-community approach in response to what is fast becoming a crisis for our local community,” she said.

“It is absolutely imperative that all levels of government throw their full weight and resources behind this effort.

“We must not be left behind.”