Dawson MP George Christensen said a “combination of events” were behind delays in the rollout on a local level which was set to begin by the end of February. Picture: Nicholas Eagar/ NCA NewsWire
Dawson MP George Christensen said a “combination of events” were behind delays in the rollout on a local level which was set to begin by the end of February. Picture: Nicholas Eagar/ NCA NewsWire

Why COVID-19 vaccine hasn’t started in Mackay aged care

Adequate training and a lack of COVID-19 vaccines have been blamed for a delay in delivering the first doses to aged care residents in the Mackay region.

Dawson MP George Christensen said a “combination of events” were behind delays in the local rollout which was set to begin by the end of February.

Residents of aged care facilities in Glenella, Beaconsfield, Mackay, Mirani, North Mackay and West Mackay were to be among the first to receive the vaccine as part of the federal government’s ambitious target to vaccinate all older residents and aged care workers within six weeks.

“Supply is an issue, without a doubt. Despite the fact that we’ve got these other countries that are blocking export of the vaccine to Australia, we think we can manage that rollout still,” Mr Christensen said on Friday.

“It is critical that those administering the vaccine know how to do it properly.

“We saw what happened when someone didn’t administer it properly. That is an issue, we don’t want to see it repeated.”

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The Northern Queensland Public Health Network is the one of 31 regionalised and independent public health networks established nationally by the Commonwealth Department of Health to provide local communities with better access to improved primary healthcare services.

It is separate to Queensland Health which is overseeing the rollout of vaccines at state-managed hospitals and facilities such as Mackay Base Hospital.

Mr Christensen, when pressed, said he supported calls from the Australian Medical Association for more training before the vaccine was rolled out.

“Getting all the systems in place right is better than having someone that’s given triple doses of the vaccine,” he said.

“That’s certainly what the GPs and the Australian Medical Association have asked for is more training, more understanding of how to do it so that we don’t have a repeat of problems we’ve seen elsewhere.

Dawson MP George Christensen. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Dawson MP George Christensen. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

“I support that. We don’t have an issue up here with COVID-19, quite honestly.

“Life has gone on as normal. It’s not an issue in nursing homes so we can wait a little bit longer to get that to ensure that when it is delivered, it’s delivered as safely and effectively as possible.”

Mr Christensen’s comments follows his plea for Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert to push for the state government to expand the $200 travel voucher to include the Whitsundays.

He said he would ask the federal treasurer and tourism minister to consider opening the 800,000 discounted flights to Queensland travellers, confident negotiations between the federal government and airline operators.

Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said the routes were not “set and forget”, and called on the state government to match the federal funding.

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“And secondly, if you would stop closing your borders at the drop of a hat and perhaps people who wish to tour in this great state would have more confidence that they won’t become refugees in their own country when you close the border with a couple hours’ notice,” Mr Pitt said.

“You’ve only got to look at Gladys Berejiklian. If you want a gold star on how to manage the pandemic, go to New South Wales.

“No border closures, they’ve managed the outbreaks, the hotspot management has been outstanding, particularly around contact tracing.

“This is something which is going to be with for a long period of time but once again, the roll out of the vaccine is a welcome relief, but it is not a race.”


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