The State Government has listed Whittlesea and surrounding suburbs as priority postcodes for its new pop-up vaccine centres as a result of low vaccine uptake.
The City of Whittlesea urgently called on the State Government last week for more vaccination centres, as the municipality recorded the third-lowest COVID vaccination rate of any Victorian municipality, and the fourth-highest number of active cases with 274 yesterday.
The City of Whittlesea’s eligible population is sitting roughly 10 per cent lower than the state average for both first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine. A total of 66.2 per cent of Victoria’s total population has now received a first dose, but City of Whittlesea residents have only recently crossed 50 per cent.
The numbers are lower still in the suburbs of Epping, Wollert, Thomastown and Lalor.
The State Government will now target 100 priority postcodes across the state, with an immediate focus on Melburne’s northern and western suburbs.
Five new community pop-ups will be based in the Hume, Dandenong and Casey local government areas and will be hosted in council and religious settings to offer tailored support for local culturally and linguistically diverse, CALD, communities, like it has done at a Hindu temple site in Mill Park.
About 70 school-based pop-ups are also earmarked for all members of the community, with the first schools used including Hazel Glen College in Doreen.
Council’s chair administrator Lydia Wilson last week said the City of Whittlesea urgently needed more vaccination centres.
“Local CALD community leaders and our multifaith networks have thrown their support behind the vaccination campaign but we are just not getting the numbers through the doors of the mass vaccination sites,” she said.
“We know our community is having difficulty navigating the booking system for the state-run sites. More localised walk-up options would make it so much easier for our CALD community and other local residents to access a vaccination.”
People over the age of 16 are now eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine. Those older than 60 will receive AstraZeneca, those 16-17 will receive Pfizer, and those 18-59 can choose.
With a limited supply of Pfizer in Australia, the majority of available vaccines is AstraZeneca. Appointments are open at GPs, pharmacies and vaccination hubs, including at the council offices in South Morang, which has extended its opening hours and added more appointments this week.
“We need to act now. Supporting our community to get vaccinated is the path to safely reopening and getting our kids back into schools, families back together and getting our businesses back on their feet,” Ms Wilson said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said metropolitan Melbourne’s restrictions would begin to ease slightly once the state reached 70 per cent first-dose vaccination.
City of Whittlesea chief executive Craig Lloyd provided an update on the figures at the latest council meeting and urged residents to not delay in getting vaccinated.
“With more vaccines becoming available, pharmacies now providing vaccines, and additional vaccine pop-ups on the way, I respectfully ask all of our community to consider, if you haven’t been vaccinated already, to book in as soon as possible,” he said.
To learn more or to make a booking at a state vaccination hub, visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine.