Gladstone and Banana Shire Director of Medical Services Dr Dilip Kumar receives the first AstraZeneca COVID vaccination in Gladstone on March 17, 2021. Picture: Rodney Stevens
Gladstone and Banana Shire Director of Medical Services Dr Dilip Kumar receives the first AstraZeneca COVID vaccination in Gladstone on March 17, 2021. Picture: Rodney Stevens

First Gladstone COVID vaccination administered

“I feel fine.”

“It was very small, like a mozzie bite.”

Those were the words of Gladstone and Banana Shire Director of Medical Services Dr Dilip Kumar after receiving the port city’s first AstraZeneca COVID vaccination on Wednesday morning.

Despite calls to pause the AstraZeneca rollout due to a few people experiencing blood clots, the emergency physician said he had complete confidence the vaccine was safe.

“It is very safe, the benefit far outweighs the risk from the vaccine and the risk is very minimal,” he said.

Dr Kumar said the Therapeutic Goods Administration used world leading clinical testing methods and everyone should be confident of the AstraZeneca vaccine’s efficacy.

Phase 1a of the vaccination rollout will see frontline health workers, paramedics, border control and quarantine workers receive the jab, with phase 1b to commence within weeks.

The Gladstone Local Government Area has seen only one case of COVID - a woman from Calliope who tested positive in April 2020 and has since recovered.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service chief executive Steve Williamson said Wednesday’s first vaccinations in Gladstone were a “milestone” in the rollout program.

“The rollout commenced in Rockhampton a couple of days ago and this is a really important site for us to continue that rollout,” he said.

Mr Williamson said currently there would not be a choice of vaccines available to Central Queenslanders, only AstraZeneca.

“The vaccination in Central Queensland is AstraZeneca, that is the intention, that is the provision that is available, so there won’t be other vaccines available in Central Queensland at this point,” he said.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Steve Williamson, Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water Minister, Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher and Gladstone and Banana Shire Director of Medical Services Dr Dilip Kumar at Gladstone Hospital's West Wing after Dr Kumar received the first AstraZeneca COVID vaccination in Gladstone. Picture: Rodney Stevens
Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Steve Williamson, Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water Minister, Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher and Gladstone and Banana Shire Director of Medical Services Dr Dilip Kumar at Gladstone Hospital's West Wing after Dr Kumar received the first AstraZeneca COVID vaccination in Gladstone. Picture: Rodney Stevens

“The TGA have confirmed there is no evidence of a link between blood clots and the COVID-19 vaccination.

“We’d anticipate having about 40 GP practices across Central Queensland who will be involved in the rollout program.”

Mr Williamson said while the current vaccine rollout was only for adults aged 18 and over, the Therapeutic Goods Administration was conducting trials on vaccines for children.

“In Central Queensland that’s about 165,000 people over the course of the next few months that will get two doses,” he said.

“Dose one and then 10 to 12 weeks later, dose two.

“The TGA currently don’t provide authorisation for the vaccine to be given to people under the age of 18, but that’s not to say that won’t happen.

“I’m sure we will see more work in the coming months to show that the vaccine is as effective for people under 18.”

Mr Williamson said the next location for the CQ vaccination rollout would be Emerald later next week, followed by other locations in the region.

Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water Minister, Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said it was a very important day for Gladstone in the fight against COVID.

“People have been talking to me for many months now about when’s it our turn to get the vaccine in Gladstone?” he said.

“We will see a doctor getting done here in Gladstone this morning, and also one of our amazing ambulance officers.”

Mr Butcher said the vaccination program in CQ could only be rolled out when the Queensland Government received the vaccines from the Federal Government.

He said he wasn’t concerned about reports the vaccination rollout had been too slow.

“You can only deliver what you’ve got and we’ve been waiting to get these vaccines from the Federal Government,” he said.

“We are seeing this rolled out here in a strategic way and the Central Queensland Health and Hospital service is playing a huge part in this rollout.”

Mr Butcher said local GPs would be contacting patients when it was their turn to get vaccinated.

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