Townsville testing clinic nurse first in line for COVID-19 vaccine

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

The first COVID-19 vaccine in Townsville has been administered on Friday 5 March to registered nurse Rebecca DeJong.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath has visited the Townsville University Hospital’s Pfizer hub, which will bring the vaccine to North Queensland’s frontline workers.

“It has been an incredible two weeks and I’m so pleased to be in Townsville to launch the 6th Pfizer vaccination hub,” Minister D’Ath said.

“The vaccine in this initial stage of the rollout will be administered to frontline workers in hotel quarantine, in our hospitals and at our ports and borders. “They’re the most vulnerable to infection and getting them vaccinated early on is a crucial part of our fight against COVID-19. “I cannot overstate how proud I am of our hardworking staff in Townsville for getting this vaccination hub up and running. “This is all about keeping North Queenslanders safe and protecting the local economy from the effects of coronavirus.” Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said she was thrilled by the milestone.

“One year ago I never would expect to have reached this stage in our recovery,” Dr Young said.

“I am excited for Townsville. I am excited for everyone getting the vaccine today and I am excited for Queensland.

“I am encouraging everyone to get vaccinated when it is their turn in the queue. I know I will be.”

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said the first vaccination was a watershed moment for Townsville.

“The first vaccine signals a critical step in protecting the Townsville community from COVID-19,” he said.

“We’ve spent the past 12 months putting health workers on the front line in our ED, COVID-19 isolation ward and at our numerous drive-through testing clinics and this vaccine offers an essential safeguard for these people.”

Rebecca DeJong said she was proud to be the first person in Townsville to receive the vaccination.

“I’ve worked in the testing clinics since June last year and I am so relieved the vaccine is here,” she said.

“I was born in the Netherlands and have a lot of family in Europe which has been worrying because it has been much worse there with over one million cases and 15,000 deaths.

“In Townsville we have been fortunate to not have had significant numbers of COVID-19 but it doesn’t underestimate the importance of being vaccinated.”

Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said: “The COVID vaccine is an important part of our COVID defence, but it’s still important that the community continues to do the basics right. “These include social distancing and staying home if you are sick and getting tested if you display the symptoms of COVID-19.”

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said Townsville’s first vaccine would future-proof the North Queensland way of life.

“It’s great to see Townsville University Hospital kicking off their staff vaccination program,” he said.

“As North Queenslanders we enjoy a laid-back, relaxed lifestyle and have been relatively fortunate to maintain this during the pandemic, but this vaccination will help ensure this into the future.” Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said:

“I know there will be many more health workers to be vaccinated at this Townsville hub in the coming days, weeks and months and I commend them for their commitment to protecting the community.

“We’ll continue to ramp up the vaccine rollout progressively, including to Townsville’s general population.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine will soon be distributed to Queensland by the Australian Government.

This will allow for a much broader distribution of vaccine, and more locations will come online, including more hospitals, GPs and pharmacies.

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