Combined efforts lead to encouraging results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccination rates

7 October 2021

Aboriginal health leaders report an increase in vaccination rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the South Eastern NSW region but are urging community members to keep second dose appointments and to stick to the same vaccine.

Dianne Kitcher, CEO of COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW PHN said, “The increase in vaccination rates for First Nations people over a short period of time is to be applauded. By 4 October, 12,668 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, or 72.7 percent, in the South Eastern NSW region have received a first dose which is a 5.9 percent improvement since 27 September.

“With the increased availability of Pfizer, the concerted effort by all four Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in collaboration with partner organisations and elders has made a huge difference,” said Ms Kitcher.

All four ACCHOs have combined efforts over the past three weeks to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can get vaccinated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

CEO of Katungul, Kayeleen Brown said, "Providing more opportunities for the community to access vaccines is important. We are working closely with key services to increase options and availability of vaccines across our communities and providing access to essential supplies and support for Aboriginal community members who have been a close contact.

“Our uptake of the vaccines has tripled over the last few weeks, with more of our community seeking information and making informed decisions about their health care needs. We have been fortunate to work with key community groups, to ensure access to information and vaccines is made available across the far south coast”.

“We recently held clinics at Twofold Bay, Eden and Wallaga Lake thanks to the support and leadership from Twofold, Wallaga Lake Land Council and of our community leaders, local general practices and partnership with Southern NSW Local Health District,” said Ms Brown.

CEO of South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation, Craig Ardler said, “With increased supplies of Pfizer we are now able to hold Pfizer clinics on Wednesdays and Thursdays and have an AstraZeneca clinic on Tuesdays. We just held our first Saturday clinic which was a big success.

“We’re asking people to talk with our Health team if they have questions about the different vaccines and what it all means for the overall health and wellbeing of our mob.

“Vaccination rates in the Shoalhaven have increased quickly plus we have been administering vaccines to 12 to 15 year-olds, that age group aren’t included in the latest figures,” said Mr Ardler.

CEO of the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation, Kane Ellis said, "We have been offering Pfizer for the last three months and the community has responded positively. Our clinics are held on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and are booked out two weeks in advance. We are looking to increase our clinics to possibly include a Saturday.

"We want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated it’s the only way to protect our families," said Mr Ellis.

CEO of Waminda, Faye Worner said, "We’ve held two successful Saturday clinics in Nowra and have clinics booked for Ulladulla, Sanctuary Point, Parramatta Park in East Nowra as well as our regular clinics at 122 Kinghorn Street, Nowra each week. We have second dose clinics coming up at Orient Point and at Plunkett Street, Nowra as well.

“Aboriginal communities are really being proactive in coming forward and getting vaccinated in order to look after their families. Making the vaccines easily accessible has made a huge difference, we’re working hard to publicise our clinics and remove any barriers to accessing the vaccines,” said Ms Worner.

View the latest Department of Health national Indigenous population vaccination data here.

Aboriginal health, Community, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Immunisation, Media release, Prevention initiatives, Southern NSW