Whitten Oval vaccine hub plan


Goya Dmytryshchak

Altona Meadows is one of the first suburbs where the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is being rolled out this week, while talks are under way to convert Whitten Oval into a mass vaccination hub.

Four suburbs in Melbourne’s west are part of the first roll-out, with Werribee, Point Cook and Hoppers Crossing also on the list.

Maribyrnong mayor Michael Clarke said the West Footscray homeground of the Western Bulldogs could become a vaccination hub, with discussions taking place with the Department of Health and Human Services and others.

“As a partner in pandemic recovery, council is working with the state government to identify both potential vaccination and future testing sites in its municipality should a future outbreak like that of the Holiday Inn occur,” he said.

“Council’s immunisation team is also working closely with DHHS around the vaccination program roll-out in its municipality.

“Council is further aware, and involved in early discussions between DHHS, Western Bulldogs and medical groups led by AMA’s Mukesh Haikerwal to potentially use Whitten Oval as a vaccination site.”

Initial doses of vaccines will go to aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline healthcare workers and quarantine and border workers.

Benetas St George residential aged care in Altona Meadows will be one of the first facilities where residents and staff will be vaccinated.

Chief executive Sandra Hills said it was “welcome and much anticipated”.

“I know our residents and employees at St George’s are feeling positive about receiving the vaccine,” she said.

“We are all intent on progressing any measures that will protect older Australians from COVID-19 and its devastating effect.

“We are keen to receive as much information as we can from the government so we can pass this onto our Benetas community.

“We want everyone to be supported to make a fully-informed choice on receiving the vaccine.”

A health department spokesperson said high-risk, priority people at nine Victorian suburban and regional health services would be vaccinated from this week.

“Western Health is one of the nine health services announced for phase 1a,” the spokesperson said.

“Our priority is to make sure the Commonwealth’s vaccine rollout will be administered to these priority groups in Victoria as quickly and safely as possible.

“The department is grateful to all vaccine hubs for their enormous effort in ensuring a safe and fair vaccine distribution.”

The federal government has advised that Victoria can expect to receive about 11,000 doses per week initially, although this will be dependent on supply.

As more Pfizer vaccine is provided to Australia, this number is expected to increase.

The next vaccine purchased by the government to become available is the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the first doses will be available for use in March.

This will increase the number of doses available for phase 1a priority groups in Victoria.