By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A Covid vaccination hub that can deliver up to 2000 jabs a day has opened at Sandown Racecourse.
South Sudanese community leaders were among the first to roll up their sleeves for AstraZeneca shots at the centre’s 29 booths on 19 May.
Jago Adongjak of Centre for Multicultural Youth said the vaccine was a “very important step in fighting this coronavirus”.
“We need as a community to be seen to be doing the right thing.
“I’ve taken it today because it’s very important for everybody – for yourself, your family, your community and most importantly Australia.”
Mr Adjongjak said “too much conflicting information in the media” was causing hesitancy. It needed to be countered, he said.
Reverend Tut Yoa of All Nations Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia said the vaccine was important for “our lives and the lives of each other”.
“It’s our responsibility to look after each other.
“I encourage people to come out and have the vaccine to protect their loved ones.”
Greater Dandenong mayor Angela Long attended in a show of support. She’d received the AstraZeneca jab two weeks earlier with no side-effects, she said.
“We’ll never get rid of this pandemic unless everyone is vaccinated.”
Councillor Sean O’Reilly bared his singlet to get vaccinated on his 50th birthday.
The Sandown hub was large, conveniently located and with “the best views” of any vaccination centre in Australia, he said.
Monash Health’s head of infection prevention Professor Rhonda Stuart said the spacious venue had capacity to flex up to another 60 booths.
Its initial capacity of 800 vaccine shots a day would then increase to 2000.
From 24 May, Pfizer vaccines were set to also be available at the centre for eligible under 50’s.
Workers in critical and high-risk areas, including PT staff, transport and Uber ride-share drivers, are eligible.
In the South East, more than 270,000 vaccine shots had been administered in two months. About 500 a day are being performed at the vaccination hub at Cranbourne.
As part of its Sandown push, Monash Health is targeting CALD communities.
On 18 May, information was available in 15 languages at Sandown. Phone interpreters were also available.
“This is a really multicultural area so we had a forum with community leaders the other night,” Professor Stuart said.
“We’re looking to them to promote this.”
Health authorities are also battling a reluctance to have the jab. According to a recent poll, about 29 per cent of surveyed Australians ruled themselves out.
Professor Stuart blames “bad media”, particularly the “over-blown” reporting of about a dozen reported serious blood-clotting cases and one death from more than 1.8 million AstraZeneca shots.
In the meantime, 820 Victorians have died from more than 20,000 Covid-19 infections.
“Bad media has picked out very rare events and blown them out of proportion compared to the real risk of people dying and being sick from the virus,” Professor Stuart said.
“These vaccines are important to stop people getting sick and overwhelming hospitals.”
The centre at Sandown Racecourse will be open from 9.00am to 5.00pm every day.
It welcomes walk-ins, although bookings are recommended.
To book, call 1800 675 398 and then select, option 1, option 1, option 1.