NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Why Adam Goodes got the COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Adam Goodes tells us why he got the COVID-19 vaccine' drawing of syringes

Why Adam Goodes got the COVID-19 vaccine

Adnyamathanha and Narungga man Adam Goodes has explained (see video below) why he chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of understanding the risks of COVID-19, and the benefits of vaccination. “Having my first injection does give me a peace of mind that I am doing my part and helping our families and our communities. To be honest, I have put a lot of thought into getting the COVID vaccination.”

“The obstetrician told us that my wife was able to get vaccinated to protect her and our baby. That made it very clear to me that is was very safe and it’s something that not only I, but all of us should really have a think about. Understand the risks involved in contracting COVID-19. I think it’s very important that all of us here in Australia should get vaccinated to protect our family and friends.”

“To my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, it’s just as important for us to know the risks of COVID-19. But more importantly, the benefits of being vaccinated and the benefits to our mob and all of us going out there and getting that jab. Now that I’ve had my first injection, being vaccinated, it’s definitely something that I feel really proud about, not only to help protect myself and my family, but for me to do my part. By getting vaccinated, it’s helping us all move closer to getting back to normality. I’m arming myself against COVID-19 to protect myself, my family and the community.”

For COVID-19 vaccine information refer to state/territory health advice, ATAGI, Commonwealth.

Illustration in feature tile: Heads of State. Image source: WIRED website.

Boost in COVID-19 vaccines for ACCHOs

With COVID-19 numbers growing across NSW the AH&MRC has advocated for increased COVID-19 vaccines for ACCHOs to ensure the safety of Aboriginal people and communities. AH&MRC is proudly supporting 46 clinics across 29 ACCHOs in NSW to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, with 8 clinics set to receive record numbers of vaccine doses.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in regional NSW over the last two weeks have seen COVID-19 cases emerge in areas such as Dubbo and Walgett with close contact locations including Maitland, Mudgee, Bathurst and Orange. As the Aboriginal Health Peak Body in New South Wales, the AH&MRC has played a central role in supporting the ACCHOs to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines.

ACCHOs have delivered safe and effective COVID-19 responses to their communities for nearly 18 months now since the pandemic began. Strong communication around social distancing, isolation and quarantine have led to small numbers of Aboriginal cases of COVID-19. The current outbreak in the Greater Sydney area is now seeing cases move out into regional areas with high populations of Aboriginal people. ACCHOs that were receiving up to 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine per week are now set to receive up to 600 doses per week in high-risk areas.

“In order to keep our people safe, it is essential that the ACCHO sector, including the AH&MRC, have the support of the Ministry of Health and other NSW Government branches. We are a priority population and we need action. We’re seeing workforce fatigue because we haven’t been resourced to be the leaders of the vaccine rollout for Aboriginal people. We can’t continue to foot the bill for this.” said Jade Hansen, Manager of Service Performance and Quality at the AH&MRC.

To view the AH&MRC’s media release in full click here.

vaccine being injected into arm

Image source: UNSW Sydney.

Pleas for Mob to talk about COVID-19 risks

The Mayor of Dubbo has pleaded with the Aboriginal community to speak up about the risks of COVID-19 as the cluster in Western NSW significantly increased.

Dubbo Mayor Stephen Lawrence again reinforced the health advice to stay at home and called upon members of the cities’ Aboriginal community to speak up. “Really, really important for the Aboriginal community to be strong advocates, as they have been, on this issue,” he said.

“If you are Aboriginal in West Dubbo, you can help by contacting your family and friends, especially people that might not be hearing these important health messages. Speak to your family, explain to them the urgent need to stay home. There’s been great reactions from leaders, Elders, sportspeople making social media videos, contributing to media, speaking out loudly to their community.”

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

Dubbo aerial view

Dubbo has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases. Image source: Nine News website.

Don’t believe the myths

As country and state leaders set their sites on vaccination goals to lift current COVID-19 restrictions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being urged to bolster the efforts and protect our communities.

On the frontline of the call to action is Gurdanji-Arrernte woman and head of NACCHO, Pat Turner OAM. In a high-risk category, Ms Turner described the process of receiving two doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine as uneventful. “I had no reaction apart from a very sore arm and a bit of a headache,” she told NITV’s The Point. “I went home, took a panadol, went to bed – I woke up fine.”

As of 10 August about 150,000 First Nations people have received a dose of a COVID vaccine – equating to 27.9% of our population. 75,000 have been fully vaccinated, which is 13.6% of our people, figures that are well behind the wider population.

It’s a major concern for ACCHOs across the country, that have recently ordered 197, 246 doses of both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca. Ms Turner wants First Nations peoples to take advantage of the supply.

“Don’t listen to all the myths, listen to the medical advice, listen to our health services,” she said. “Speak to the doctors if you have any concerns, but be rest assured you will have 99.9% protection if you get vaccinated against getting seriously ill and hospitalised.”

To view the article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaking on NITV The Point

Head of NACCHO, Pat Turner, is calling on mob to take advantage of vaccine supplies heading to ACCHOs. Image source: NITV.

Spreads as quick as a grass fire

Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Phil Naden said a case there had seemed inevitable. “The reality has now hit home that this spreads as quick as a grass fire,” he said.

A 27-year-old man, released on bail from Bathurst prison, travelled six hours home to Walgett in the state’s north-west, passing through Coonamble on the way. At the time, the man had no inkling that a COVID-19 test he had taken in jail would soon come back positive.

The news was greeted with alarm in towns like Walgett and Coonamble, where around a third of the population is Aboriginal.

You can view the ABC news article in full here.

Coonamble AMS CEO Phil Naden portrait shot with green trees in background

Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Phil Naden says the region was expecting a COVID case. Photo supplied: AH&MRC. Image source: ABC News website.

Calls for Indigenous vaccine data release

Under the current roll out plan, Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over have been classified as a 1B priority group since March. In June, it was expanded to all Indigenous people aged 16 and over.

But there is growing concern the vaccination rates of First Nations people are lagging behind the rest of the nation. Just 14% of First Nations people nationally are fully vaccinated compared to the overall national rate of 25%.

Figures released by the federal government show vaccination rates in WA’s Kimberley and Pilbara regions are lagging at 8.6%. It’s among the lowest in the nation.

Unlike NZ, the Australian Government does not provide a breakdown of vaccination rates for our First Nations people. It’s something that opposition Indigenous Australians spokesman and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney insists must change. Labor is calling on the government to release daily data on local First Nations vaccination rates and on the availability of vaccines.

“The lockdown of Walgett Shire has exposed the low vaccination rates among First Nations people, in particular in regional and remote communities,” she said. “But the issue of First Nations vaccination now as it stands must begin with accountability and transparency. And that means publishing their data and being able to identify the areas that lack supply, and ensuring they don’t get left behind.”

It follows a similar call from NACCHO, who last week demanded greater transparency amid fears the lack of vaccine data could leave big gaps for communities to be exposed to the virus.

You can read the article in full here.

Linda Burney MP

Linda Burney has urged the government to release vaccination data daily. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard. Image source: The Australian.

Walgett Elders’ COVID-19 fears

Uncle Victor Beale hoped COVID-19 would never reach his hometown of Walgett. But as NSW’s outbreak worsens, remote and regional communities like Walgett and Dubbo are now experiencing the same fear and uncertainty that has gripped cities around the country, and the world, for the past 18 months.

“I thought Walgett is one of the safest places on earth, we’ve been very lucky… [but now] there’s a lot of anxious people,” the 66-year-old Gamilaroi elder said.

The north-western NSW town and seven surrounding areas were plunged into a 7-day lockdown last Wednesday {11 August 2021] after a local man tested positive following his release from Bathurst jail.

“People just don’t know what’s gonna happen. They’re very tough these people out here, they handle just about everything, but when something sneaks up on you like this, it’s a whole different ball game,” Mr Beale said.

According to the 2016 Census, more than 40% of Walgett’s population identify as Indigenous, and many of them suffer from multiple chronic health conditions. The town has a four-bed hospital, and the nearest larger hospital is a three-hour drive away in Dubbo. Concerns are mounting about the strain on local health facilities if things get worse.

“We’ll be doing the best we can. We want to try and keep people on country if we can, but at the same time it’s going to be what’s best for them for medical treatment,” acting CEO of Walgett’s Aboriginal Medical Service Katrina Ward said.

To view the news article in full click here.

Katrina Ward, Acting CEO of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service

Katrina Ward, Acting CEO of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.
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