Media event date: 
20 April 2021
Date published: 
22 April 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

MARK COULTON:

It’s great to be here at the Royal Flying Doctor Base with Peter and Jenny, and we’ve just been into the vaccination clinic.

About 12 months ago, the Flying Doctor stepped up and ran a respiratory clinic here to test for COVID. They’ve now transformed that into a vaccination clinic.

And what's been heartening is speaking to the doctors and the nurses inside, is that the people of the far west in Broken Hill are stepping up.

They're taking the opportunity when it comes to them to have the vaccination. And a lot of the reluctance that maybe we've seen elsewhere in the country doesn't seem to be playing out here.

Looking forward to over the next weeks and months where the Royal Flying Doctor Service is going to take a more active role as well delivering those services out into some of the more remote communities.

They already have that relationship with those communities, and so the government at the moment is working through the process on how that might happen.

But I think the real message here is that it's probably nearly 12 months since we've had a case of COVID in Broken Hill.

But despite that, despite the relative safety that we've had, people still realise that they are vulnerable and that it is important to get that vaccination and that's what they're doing.

JOURNALIST:

How are you going to get the message out there that people should be getting these vaccines when, as you say, there's quite a relaxed feel in the community?

MARK COULTON:

Well, I think it's a combination.

I think obviously we've had some hiccups through the process.

We've had the supply issues earlier on, having to take that medical advice and change the regulations for the under 50s about the AstraZeneca one.

And so, the challenge that we have as a government is to try and maintain that level of confidence with the Australian people.

And so, it's a combination of over cautiousness and a combination of maybe overconfidence. They’re the two extremes.

I've been to quite a few GP clinics in regional towns and Aboriginal medical services. Generally, what I'm hearing is that people in the regions are stepping up.

And I think the more people that have it and we don't hear the horror stories of people having ill effects, I think that will gradually snowball. I think we'll see by the end of the year - I’m certain we'll see a more positive outlook towards the vaccine.

JOURNALIST:

Given we're now relying on Pfizer more, that's obviously got to come from overseas, are regional community going to be getting that at the same time as the cities?

MARK COULTON:

Yes, certainly, that's already the case.

Pfizer has been going out in the regional centres as part of the 1A, going into aged care facilities.

A lot of the health districts have been using Pfizer to cover their frontline staff. But a lot of the concerns earlier on about Pfizer and the logistics of having a vaccine that's stored at minus 70 have been overcome, and it can now be stored at a higher a higher freezer temperature.

Once is in the vaccine refrigerator, it does have a lifespan of about five days.

So, there's enough flexibility in that supply chain to actually get that vaccine to wherever it needs to go.

So, we had 20 million doses under contract. We've just secured another 20 million.

But the majority of those doses will be coming through towards the end of the year.

So, that's why this week there’s been discussions and comments made by the Prime Minister about the possibility of larger vaccination centres towards the end of the year when we get more supply coming through.