Race to get vaccinated before wet season

Cleaning your gutters, pruning trees, preparing an emergency kit, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 – Townsville residents are being urged to add a new item to their preparation checklist for the coming wet season.

With the start of the traditional wet season only a matter of weeks away, Local Disaster Management Group chairperson and Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the race was on to get ready, including getting vaccinated.

Cr Hill said the 2021/22 would be the second wet season over which COVID had cast a shadow. However, unlike last wet season, a vaccine was now available that would help protect the community.

“It’s a race to get vaccinated before the wet season. The time to act is now,” Cr Hill said.

“The Local Disaster Management Group undertook substantial planning in the lead-up to last year’s wet season on the potential impacts on COVID-19 on a disaster response.

“Thankfully, the last wet season was relatively uneventful, with two cyclones approaching the coast but then moving away. While we did also receive some good rainfall, there were no reports of property inundation.

“This year, COVID has again been a consideration in our planning; however, we can minimise any potential impact from the virus by getting vaccinated.

Cr Hill said, for example, a vaccinated population would reduce the risk of a cyclone shelter or evacuation centre becoming a COVID hot spot in the event that hundreds of residents needed shelter before, during or after a cyclone.

District Disaster Coordinator, Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon, said preparedness was the best way to reduce the risk of negative outcomes during the upcoming wet season.

“During critical weather events, police may have to move large groups of people to evacuation centres, and we want to ensure we reduce the risk the spreading COVID-19,” Chief Superintendent Hanlon said.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is our best line of defence in fighting COVID-19 and is also the best way you can protect yourself, your family, your colleagues and your community.

“The more people who receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the safer we will all be.”

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said having the community vaccinated against COVID-19 would offer a level of assurance that in the event of a serious weather event, COVID-19 would not become an additional concern.

“As a community, we have all experienced the stress that cyclones, storms and flooding can cause,” Mr Keyes said.

“The community does not need another cause for distress in times like this and COVID-19 certainly has the ability to make people worry.”

Mr Keyes said that a COVID-19 case during a weather event would have serious impacts for delivery of health care in the community.

“With previous weather events in our community, we have had to cancel outpatient appointments and elective surgeries.

“We have also seen people in the community become unwell with illnesses such as melioidosis, leptospirosis or sustain injuries preparing their homes for weather events or in the clean-up and come to hospital.

“A COVID-19 outbreak would be added pressure to our hospital in what would already be a busy time.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is an easy, free and effective way to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t impact our community during the wet season.

“The COVID-19 vaccination centre accepts walk-ins, so people don’t even need to make an appointment.

“Take the time to stop by Woodman Court and get your vaccine on Sunday, Monday and Friday between 8:30am – 3:30pm or Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 8:30am – 7:30pm.”

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