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NWHHS takes unique approach to vaccinating the North West
Image: Brisbane Lions star, Charlie Cameron visiting the Mount Isa Vaccination Hub
In an effort to provide protection to the geographically diverse and vulnerable communities of the North West, North West Hospital and Health Service (NWHHS) have taken a unique approach to delivering the COVID-19 vaccine.
From bringing NRL and AFL football stars on vaccination tours, to popping up at rodeos, country race meets and the local Kmart, the NWHHS team is determined to have the population protected amidst the pandemic.
In the seven months since COVID vaccinations became available to the residents of North West Queensland, almost 65% of the population has had one dose or more and are on their way to become fully protected against the deadly virus.
NWHHS have been responsible for vaccinating the rural and remote region and overcoming challenges including accessing remote locations and vaccine hesitancy and providing protection to vulnerable Indigenous communities.
NWHHS Acting Chief Executive Dr Karen Murphy said the vaccination program team had overcome many of these challenges by employing unique tactics and engagement tools to encourage the uptake.
“We are in a unique situation here in the North West where our consumers live within a 300,000 square kilometres radius and it’s not as easy as standing up a couple of large vaccination centres that services 30,000. We have to take our clinics to the people and that becomes a complex logistical plan,” Dr Murphy said.
“We’ve essentially had 14 different towns to travel to on a monthly schedule as well as activating pop up clinics at Kmart, Mount Isa Mines, schools, community events, and riverbed locations. Generally, if we have had a team available, we’ll provide a clinic wherever we can.”
Dr Murphy said the unique approach to encouraging vaccine uptake by giving the community opportunities to hear from sporting heroes had been a success, following the partnership between local governments, NWHHS, North Queensland Cowboys, and Rex Airlines introducing the Cowboys legends tour.
“We followed the model of the Cowboys tour with the visit by AFL star Charlie Cameron, and it really gave the community a chance to hear from someone who travels a lot and has understood the great importance of getting vaccinated, so hopefully it encourages our people to follow suit,” she said.
“We’ve taken our vaccination team to rodeos and race meets and we’ll continue to take every opportunity to protect the North West, and I implore all of our residents to meet us half-way and get your vaccination before it is too late.”