Great Southern vaccination rates accelerate as local medics warn of the region’s outbreak vulnerability

Headshot of Tom Shanahan
Tom ShanahanGreat Southern Herald
Brenton Bouffler after receiving his first jab
Camera IconBrenton Bouffler after receiving his first jab Credit: Tom Shanahan/Tom Shanahan

Great Southern residents are playing their part in protecting regional WA from COVID-19, with vaccination rates accelerating as the Pfizer vaccine lands in practices across the region and WA’s eligibility widens.

Local medical professionals have urged communities to keep it up, warning that regional health facilities are not equipped to deal with a widespread outbreak.

So far, 3000 doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered to people between Katanning and Kojonup St Luke’s Family Practices, with nearly 1000 people being fully immunised after receiving their second dose.

St Luke’s plans to double its Pfizer storage from 150 doses a week to 300, with GPs set to be given the green light to administer vaccines to help deal with sky-rocketing demand, as both Katanning and Kojonup practices are fully booked out until the end of this month.

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Brenton Bouffler receives the jab in St Luke's Family Practice
Camera IconBrenton Bouffler receives the jab in St Luke's Family Practice

Katanning Pharmacy has also experienced an increase in the amount of people being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab, going from an average of one person per week in the first month to now almost 20 people per week.

Great Southern Community Chemist and Katanning Pharmacy have started providing walk-in AstraZeneca vaccinations and have just applied to store Moderna vaccines for potential administration next month.

As of last Monday, all West Australians aged 12 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

And from next Monday, the Pfizer vaccine will be available to over-60s through WA’s State-run vaccination hubs.

St Luke's Family Practice manager Claire Fleming
Camera IconSt Luke's Family Practice manager Claire Fleming Credit: Pictures: Tom Shanahan

St Luke’s practice manager Claire Fleming said she was impressed with the response from Great Southern locals to come out and get themselves vaccinated.

WA Health figures show that the Great Southern has the highest vaccination rate in regional WA at 9920 doses per 10,000 people, just in front of the South West.

“We have still got quite a few to go obviously but I think our area is smashing it,” Ms Fleming said.

“If people are unsure about the vaccine I would encourage them to have a chat with their doctor, who are trained in all of these vaccinations, about why they are unsure and what the pros and cons are.

“A lot of young people think, ‘why should I get it’? Well, I don’t want my parents, who are elderly with health issues so are more susceptible than us, to get it.

St Luke's Family Practice nurse Kerry Harker with a COVID-19 vaccine
Camera IconSt Luke's Family Practice nurse Kerry Harker with a COVID-19 vaccine

“The Delta strain scares the hell out of me.

“People need to do the right thing, they don’t have to rush out and get the vaccination tomorrow but we encourage people to come out and get the ball rolling by booking an appointment.”

Katanning pharmacist Mukhtar Hedayat said unvaccinated residents in towns like Katanning would be more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 than those in Perth because of the lack of strong medical facilities in regional WA.

“If there is an outbreak here we may not be as safe as those who are in Perth,” he said. “We are not equipped for an outbreak here in Katanning. It would be hard for people to get to doctors — we only have two surgeries and hospitals.

“Vaccinations stop an outbreak. With 80 to 90 per cent of the population vaccinated the virus won’t have a lot to travel through which is why it is important for us regional people to get vaccinated.”

Katanning Pharmacy managing pharmacist Mukhtar Hedayat with an AstraZeneca vile
Camera IconKatanning Pharmacy managing pharmacist Mukhtar Hedayat with an AstraZeneca vile

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