On track for November vaccine target in Deni

The district population is on track to get be 70 to 80 per cent fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November, according to Murrumbidgee Local Health District.Local vaccination clinics have reported being booked out for more than two weeks.As of Sunday, Deniliquin Respiratory Clinic had administered 4597 vaccine doses.There are 1479 people who are fully vaccinated.Practice manager Sarah Campbell said the clinic is set up to deliver up to 100 vaccines if the clinic opens for half a day, and 160 on a full day.While it is difficult to measure the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 in Deniliquin due to visitors getting vaccinated as they travelled through town in the past, the numbers are promising.The NSW Government’s vaccine tracker said 50-59 per cent of people in the 2710 postcode had received their first vaccine by Sunday, while 30 to 49 per cent were fully vaccinated.A significant number of under 40s have been coming forward to get vaccinated, which Ms Campbell called a positive sign for vaccine education in young people.‘‘We’re seeing a lot of young people talking to their GPs and getting vaccinated,’’ Ms Campbell said.She warned against getting vaccine information from Google and Facebook, but rather speaking with your GP about your interest.And Ms Campbell said those unable to attend their scheduled vaccination appointments should let the clinic know.‘‘The whole point is that we have a vaccine allocated to you. If you don’t turn up on the day, that vaccine is then unallocated and given to someone else and you go to the back of the list,’’ she said.‘‘We are in short supply —  if you’re not going to turn up for your vaccination appointment let us know so that we can reallocate to someone on our extensive waiting list.’’A new booking MLHD last week reported that some Greater Sydney residents were travelling to regional areas to get vaccinated.Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee confirmed ‘‘people from lockdown areas such as Sydney and further afield — communities from high risk zones’’  used the exemption on stay at home orders for vaccination to travel to Deniliquin for the COVID shot.Ms Campbell said the NSW Government had changed the ‘‘ambiguous’’ rules since then to ensure people are getting vaccinated as close to where they live as possible, including the new permit system on Greater Sydney residents entering regional NSW.The Respiratory Clinic has since moved the booking system to phone only, so staff can screen patients ahead of their appointment.‘‘It’s incredibly difficult to do that with online bookings,’’ Ms Campbell said.Deniliquin LHAC asks residents to continue to use the eligibility checker to find available appointments, then phone 5881 1464 to book.‘‘We’ve not wasted one vaccine and that’s a pride point of ours at the Respiratory Clinic,’’ Ms Campbell said.Keeping everyone safeNSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said getting regional NSW to zero cases is the aim of the extended state-wide lockdown, to safeguard vulnerable communities.She said the state population needed to reach a 70 to 80 per cent fully vaccinated status before the state could return to a sense of normalcy, a target she expects to hit in mid-November.‘‘Unfortunately until our vaccination rate goes up to a significant level across the nation, we won’t see those restrictions eased,’’ Ms Campbell said.She said staying at home was the best remedy to avoid spreading cases around the border bubble, especially after 23 total cases were confirmed in Shepparton on Sunday.Concerns have been raised over regional and rural Indigenous populations as case numbers in Western NSW communities spread.The Deniliquin Aboriginal Medical Service, which Ms Campbell also helps oversee, has been vaccinating elders since April.The AMS has fully vaccinated 31 First Nations people while another 87 have had their first vaccine.Deniliquin’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population at the time of the 2016 Census was about 330 people, or 4.5 per cent of the local population, higher than the 2.9 per cent Australia-wide population.Ms Campbell said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can get vaccinated in Deniliquin.