News / COVID-19

‘Mammoth effort’: pop-up centre vaccinates hundreds

Almost 1000 people received a COVID vaccination shot at Brunswick Secondary College over the weekend

Registered nurse Martina Noronha gives Minke Cook her second Pfizer dose on Saturday.

Mark Phillips
Monday, October 11, 2021

THERE were queues outside the doors of the Brunswick Secondary College gymnasium waiting for a pop-up vaccination centre to open at the weekend.

Inside, once the centre opened at 10am each morning, there was a quiet hum of activity as a dozen nurses and eight administration staff went about their work protecting the local community from COVID-19.

About 70 vaccine doses were delivered in just the first hour on Saturday morning once the doors swung open to both bookings and walk-ins. Over the two days, almost 1000 vaccinations were delivered at a rate of about one dose a minute.

The pop-up clinic was open for eight hours on both Saturday and Sunday as the Victorian government targeted areas with lower than average vaccination rates in the push towards the 70% fully vaccinated rate that will allow Melbourne’s lockdown to be lifted.

The City of Moreland has consistently had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state.

By Monday, the proportion of Brunswick-Coburg residents aged over 15 who were fully vaccinated had risen to 55.3%, while 75.8% had received one dose.

Compared to a statewide rate of fully vaccinated rate of 59.3%, Brunswick-Coburg was 55th out of 66 areas in Victoria. Brunswick-Coburg is a full 10% behind the statewide first dose rate.

A concerning trend is that the number of Brunswick-Coburg residents getting a second vaccine jab is outpacing those getting a first dose by a rate of almost three-to-one, suggesting that the area is close to hitting the ceiling of people willing to get vaccinated.

But there were no signs of vaccination hesitancy in the secondary college’s gym on Saturday.

“There was a queue when we opened this morning,” Sally Wilcox, the COVID vaccination project manager with not-for-profit community health organisation cohealth, which was contracted by the state government to manage the pop up centre, said on Saturday.

“We got through them in about an hour and a half and it’s just been a steady stream so far.”

She said the centre saw close to 1000 people over the full weekend “which is a mammoth effort ” .

Ms Wilcox has also overseen pop-up centres in Glenroy and at a Buddhist temple in Braybrook in recent weeks. Cohealth also manages a vaccination centre at the Melbourne Town Hall targeted at homeless people that was forced to temporarily close after it was harassed by anti-lockdown protesters last month.

“Our staff have been working so hard, and should be applauded for their dedication”: Sally Wilcox from cohealth inside the pop-up vaccination centre on Saturday.

The pop-up centre was heavily promoted on social media by the City of Moreland, Brunswick MP Tim Read, and others in the days before it opened.

Among those being vaccinated on Saturday was 14-year-old Minke Cook of Brunswick, who received her second dose of Pfizer three weeks since her first jab.

“I couldn’t wait [to get her second shot],” she said after nurse Martina Noronha had seen her.

Minke admitted to a little bit of nervousness before her first dose and a sore arm afterwards.

“She did have another appointment booked in late-October but we decided to try our luck with a walk in today,” her mother, Kerri, said.

“She’s actually been harassing me to get it done.”

Also receiving her second jab was Nazish Anjun of Fawkner, who had no hesitation in becoming fully vaccinated.

“I wanted to complete it as soon as I could because I’m a childcare worker and educator and it’s been mandated that we must complete our first dose by October 15,” she said.

“Lucikly I got my first dose in September and I just wanted to complete it.

“The first time I was a bit nervous and I had a headache for two days, but this time I was happy because it’s safer for us and others [to be fully vaccinated].”

Earlier, on Friday evening, the vaccination centre was made available to all Brunswick Secondary College students after a second dose program for Year 12s was completed sooner than expected.

“We’re grateful to the community for showing up so enthusiastically, and to our staff for their hard work,” said cohealth’s Sally Wilcox.

“On Saturday we vaccinated the highest number of people we’ve ever done in one day. Our staff have been working so hard, and should be applauded for their dedication.”

A public COVID-19 vaccination pop-up clinic will operate out of Coburg High School in Urquhart Street, Coburg, this Saturday and Sunday under the management of the Inner North Medical Clinic. The clinic will be open from 10am to 5.30pm both days for bookings and walk-ins, with the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines available. Bookings can be made here.

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