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
"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
"I'm getting vaccinated to protect myself, my family and the patients I work with each day," Ms Cooper
"In the fever clinic, I'm on the front line, so the vaccine is an extra layer of protection that gives me
"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.
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
"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.
"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
Further information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available at: www.qld.gov.au/covid19vaccine