First Queensland recipient of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Bundaberg Hospital Emergency Department Nurse Unit Manager Suzanne Smith with vaccinator Sherine Binder.
First Queensland recipient of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Bundaberg Hospital Emergency Department Nurse Unit Manager Suzanne Smith with vaccinator Sherine Binder.

Bundy nurse the first Qld recipient of AstraZeneca vaccine

The first Queenslander to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine says she feels great.

Bundaberg Hospital Emergency Department Nurse Unit manager Suzanne Smith was the first of 16 health workers who today rolled up their sleeves to receive the jab.

Ms Smith said she'd learned a lot of lessons from history and felt privileged to be helping to lead the

effort towards a safer future.

"My gran was a nurse and told me of the many children she cared for with diphtheria, and how she lost a

niece to that dreadful disease," Ms Smith said.

"My mum, another nurse, spoke of polio cases in the 1950s - the debilitating effects of it, and of nursing

those patients for months in iron lungs.

"Thankfully, both of these diseases are largely part of our past thanks to mass immunisation of the

population.

"Now COVID-19 is the threat to our society and our way of life. And it's our turn to take the step to be

immunised, to protect ourselves and the vulnerable people in our community we care for."

Ms Smith said health staff were all keen to be vaccinated so they could feel more confident about protecting themselves and the community.

She said it had been an anxious situation for nurses the world over, referring also to cases in the UK where nurses had also lost colleagues to the virus.

Registered Nurse Michelle Cooper, who works in the Bundaberg fever clinic, was also among the first to

be vaccinated and said she was excited to have been given the opportunity in the initial stage of the

rollout.

"I'm getting vaccinated to protect myself, my family and the patients I work with each day," Ms Cooper

said.

"In the fever clinic, I'm on the front line, so the vaccine is an extra layer of protection that gives me

reassurance.

"Like any vaccine, you get some people who are unsure, but you need to consider the worst-case

scenario. I have overseas friends whose family members have died from COVID-19. That's why I think

this vaccine is so important."

Intensive care doctor Doug Wilkinson was the first doctor in Queensland to receive the vaccine.

Bundaberg Hospital Intensive Care Unit Clinical Director Dr Doug Wilkinson with vaccinator Sherine Binder. He was the first doctor in Queensland to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Bundaberg Hospital Intensive Care Unit Clinical Director Dr Doug Wilkinson with vaccinator Sherine Binder. He was the first doctor in Queensland to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

 

WBHHS Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said it was exciting to see the vaccine now becoming available

in the Wide Bay, following successful launches of Pfizer hubs in Cairns and several south-east Queensland

locations in the past fortnight.

"It's taken a significant co-ordination effort at all levels to get to this position, but as the supply of more

vaccine now becomes available, I'm thrilled to say that we're ready to start our local rollout," Ms Carroll

said.

"Our first AstraZeneca vaccination hub - vaccinating priority group 1a - has opened today in Bundaberg

and we'll look to open other locations across our HHS as soon as we can."

WBHHS Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Fiona Sewell, who has led WBHHS's

local vaccine rollout effort, said it had been a big lead-up to starting vaccinations of health workers today.

"It's been fun along the journey, but someone said the other day it feels we're building the plane as we're flying it and it has felt a little like that, but I don't feel like that today," she said.

Ms Sewell said there was incredible teamwork and dedication in every aspect, from converting meeting spaces into fully equipped vaccination areas to carrying out staged drills with members of the community.

"We intend to have many more vaccinated within the next few weeks," Ms Sewell said.

"Before too long, as more supply becomes available, we will commence vaccinating in Maryborough and

Hervey Bay and we'll then begin our rural outreach clinics, which will significantly increase the numbers

of our staff and other local high-risk individuals who will be protected.

Bundaberg fever clinic nurse Michelle Cooper was the second Queensland recipient of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine when she vaccinated by nurse Tammy Shilvock.
Bundaberg fever clinic nurse Michelle Cooper was the second Queensland recipient of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine when she vaccinated by nurse Tammy Shilvock.

 

"These include healthcare workers in private hospitals, as well as other at-risk workers such as police,

paramedics, and other emergency services personnel."

Wide Bay Public Health Physician Dr Niall Conroy said the establishment of vaccination hubs in the Wide

Bay was an important step in the community's ongoing COVID-19 recovery.

"The vaccine is our best chance at protecting our community and getting our normal way of life back on

track, so it's critical that we can first start offering this important extra level of protection to our frontline

healthcare workers and other at-risk individuals," Dr Conroy said.

"While the immediate focus of the rollout is on those most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their

day-to-day work, or of suffering severe illness from the virus, I want to reassure everyone that all those

who are able to be vaccinated will have the opportunity as soon as possible.

"I'm also really impressed with the leadership our staff have shown in the workplace and the community,

both throughout the pandemic and now as the vaccine is starting to roll out.

"I hope a lot of people will follow their lead and protect themselves once the vaccine becomes more widely available to the general public."

These frontline workers in priority group 1a will receive their second booster shot in 12 weeks' time to

give them maximum protection.

More locations will come online over time, including GPs and pharmacies, which are managed by the

Australian Government.

Further information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available at: www.qld.gov.au/covid19vaccine



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