• Tony Bosworth

Call in the ADF to help speed up vaccine rollout in the Hawkesbury says MP Templeman

Hawkesbury residents who work in essential services should be added to the priority vaccination list now, and Australian Defence Force (ADF) medics should be called in to help administer the vaccines locally, Macquarie MP Susan Templeman said this morning.

“If it’s good enough for Mr Morrison to mobilise the ADF to help with enforcement, it should be good enough for him to deploy medics to help protect the community through vaccinations,” she said.

“People shouldn’t have to travel into a COVID hotspot to get a vaccination,” she says.

Ms Templeman points out there is a big demand for vaccines locally, with people keen to heed the calls to be vaccinated, and she’s repeated a call she made last week for a local vaccination hub or drive-through to be established.

“Nearly 90 per cent of the cases we’ve seen in the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains have an unknown source.

“Now is the time to take urgent action on this before our region becomes a hotspot, and who better to call on than the medics of the Australian Defence Force.

“One group of people desperate to be vaccinated are the tradies, teachers and carers who head into the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of concern for work,” Ms Templeman said.

“Equally, people like early educators looking after young children whose parents work in the LGAs of concern feel at greater risk, as do supermarket workers.

“We know the virus is right on our doorstep, and the Prime Minister and Premier need to take more action to ensure that vaccines are available as quickly as possible to all those members of our community who want them.

“The State Government is allowing health, aged care and disability workers, as well as those in construction, teaching and early education living in LGAs of concern, to be prioritised for vaccinations.

“But that’s only if you live in an LGA of concern; not if you work there.

“If this program was extended to the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains through the establishment of vaccination hubs, it would help us keep the virus at bay rather than trying to shut the door after the horse has bolted,” says Ms Templeman.

“While we are seeing incursions of COVID into the Hawkesbury, we have been lucky

MP Susan Templeman in Parliament - archive

so far that none have taken hold. That is in no small way thanks to the diligence of people who are staying at home, getting tested and isolating when they are deemed contacts.

“Our GPs and pharmacies are also doing everything they can, with the space, staff and supplies that they have. But I don’t want to see long waits lead to our luck running out, and we need to stay ahead of the curve in our region.

“I have spent time in RAAF Bases at Richmond, Amberley and Iraq with ADF medics who have shown me the versatility of their skills. I would imagine it’s a role they would welcome, being able to help a community get vaccinated fast.

“Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has written to the Prime Minister urging the use of ADF personnel to help, because we want to make sure that the people in our community who want to get vaccinated have easy ways of doing it.

“The Primary Health Network has already put out calls for more Registered Nurses to come forward to help administer vaccines, and I’ve called for vaccination hubs in our region. While I’m pleased to see chemists in our area coming on board to help with the rollout and doing a fantastic job, this is not a time for the government to do as little as possible; they need to do as much as possible,” she said.

Ms Templeman is also calling for the $320 payment for people in LGAs of concern who have lost income while self-isolating and waiting for COVID test results to be made available locally.

“So many locals are hurting in this lockdown, and vaccination and isolation if you’ve been exposed to COVID are key factors to help us get back on the road to recovery,” Ms Templeman said.

“Our area hasn’t been prioritised for extra vaccine supplies, we haven’t been prioritised for a mass vaccination hub, and our workers haven’t been prioritised.

“We all know the vaccination rollout has been botched, and more than 18 months into the pandemic we are scrambling to keep our community protected. There are things the Prime Minister and Premier can do now to prevent things getting worse locally.

“Vaccines reduce the chances of getting COVID, transmitting it, and – if you do get it – reduce your chances of needing to go to hospital.

“By using every resource at our disposal – including the Defence Force – we can get this done.”

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