Gulam Khandaker receiving the first COVID-19 vaccine in Rockhampton.
Gulam Khandaker receiving the first COVID-19 vaccine in Rockhampton.

‘I feel good’: COVID vaccine hits CQ as first jab given to Dr

The first COVID-19 vaccine in Rockhampton has officially been delivered and on a significant day; exactly a year on from when the city recorded its first positive COVID-19 case.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will be rolled out across Rockhampton with the first vaccines going to those in the Phase 1A category, which are workers on the front line including hospital staff in the public health unit, emergency departments, intensive care units and high dependency units.

The vaccine will move to Gladstone next week and to other parts of Central Queensland in the coming weeks.

By the middle of April, it is expected GP vaccine clinics will be open in the Banana Shire, Central Highlands and on the Capricorn Coast.

The AstraZeneca vaccine requires two jabs, to be delivered around 10 to 12 weeks apart.

It is estimated there are 160,000 people in the Central Queensland region to be vaccinated.

All vaccines are planned to be completed by October.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service director of public health Dr Gulam Khandaker was given the honour to be the first recipient.

With months of preparation leading up to the event, the jab itself was over in a matter of seconds.

“I didn’t feel the vaccine, it was easy, and it was nothing different than any other vaccine I have had as a child or as an adult,” he said.

Dr Khandaker recalled the moment when COVID-19 hit the Central Queensland region for the first time.

“I can remember interviewing that person face to face wearing all PPE at 11am and he came positive around 2pm,” he said.

“It’s great be in this position.

“At that time last year it was not in our wildest dreams that we would have a vaccine so quickly and such a safe vaccine in such a short period of time.

“Even in the last two months, more than 300 million individuals have received different doses of vaccines and it’s proved to be very safe vaccine and very effective in clinical trials.”

He said the vaccine was the “most effective tool we can have to combat the virus”.

“If we want to come back to normality as a community and a society, we should embrace the vaccine and accept it,” he said.

CQHHS executive director Steve Williamson said the first vaccination in Rockhampton was a significant step forward.

“What a milestone of a day,” he said.

“A year ago today we had our first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Central Queensland, who would have thought a year later we would be delivering the vaccine.”

Mr Williamson congratulated the team that worked behind the scenes to prepare the vaccine roll out.

Not just from the nursing, medical and support staff but the IT, support and transport personnel as well.

“It is undoubtedly the single biggest vaccination program ever undertaken,” he said.

“A whole range of people making that happen.

“A huge amount of work, the team have worked incredibly hard.

“I would acknowledge and recognise the outstanding work they have done in Central Queensland and the great wok that has been happening at a state and Commonwealth level that has been happening to deliver the vaccine.

“I don’t think we could have envisaged a year ago when we first had that positive COVID-19 case here in Central Queensland a year later we would have a vaccine.”

As the first person to receive the jab, Dr Khandaker had a strong message to share with the public.

“I had the vaccine, it didn’t hurt, I feel good, I am still the same person but one thing has changed, I am protected against COVID-19,” he said.

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