A BIG DOSE OF CHEERS
A ‘GROUSE IDEA’, SAYS A MUM AS MERRIGUM GREETS JABBA THE BUS
Greater Shepparton’s single dose rate of COVID-19 vaccinations has hit 73.1 per cent and the city is now halfway to the 80 per cent target for full vaccination.
The figures were released yesterday, the day ‘Jabba the Bus’, GV Health’s mobile vaccination hub, travelled to Merrigum to boost vaccine rates by taking vaccinations to the people.
Jabba’s first few weeks will be spent targeting specific communities which haven’t had easy access to vaccinations, before opening up to regional communities more broadly.
At that point, GV Health will share more information about where Jabba will be and when, and how to get vaccinated on the vehicle.
Tracy Canavan, manager of Merrigum Caravan Park, where Jabba was parked, had pushed to get more members of the community out to the vaccination site, with 60 people booking in for a vaccine after community groups in Merrigum jumped on board.
‘‘I started thinking, how amazing would it be if we could open it up to the community, being a small town?’’ Ms Canavan said.
She said the seven cases linked to one Merrigum family during the latest Shepparton outbreak ‘‘frightened everyone’’.
Ms Canavan said Merrigum residents had to travel to Shepparton or Kyabram to be vaccinated and wait times were increasing.
She said ‘‘there are a lot of people who don’t know where to go or what to do’’ to book a vaccine, and GV Health had been wonderful in offering assistance — not just to get the bus to Merrigum yesterday, but throughout the pandemic.
Thirteen-year-old Merrigum resident Bryce Potts was one of the people who were vaccinated yesterday.
‘‘It was much easier than going all the way to Kyabram,’’ Bryce said.
‘‘It didn’t hurt, it was all right, it was comfy and relaxing.’’
His mum Megan said the pair had been booked in for vaccinations next month, but then heard the bus was coming to town. ‘‘It’s a grouse idea,’’ she said. ‘‘I look at it, we won’t be able to do anything if we don’t get vaccinated so we thought we’d do it.’’
Jason Fitzsimmons was in line for his first vaccination.
‘‘I had an appointment booked in a couple of weeks and it was all I could get when the outbreak in Shepp broke out, so it’s making it quicker,’’ he said.
His wife is pregnant and he said he wanted to ensure the baby had as safe an environment as possible, but the bus coming to Merrigum had made life ‘‘much easier’’. Thomas Halliday had his first vaccine yesterday and was working ‘‘just up the road’’, so popped in to get his jab.
‘‘It made it more convenient for me so it’s certainly not a bad thing,’’ he said.
Jabba the Bus team leader Brenda Anderson said the day had been ‘‘fantastic’’.
‘‘As Jabba the Bus gets more and more well-known, we get more and more people turning up,’’ Mrs Anderson said.
‘‘It’s fantastic to see the community support and it’s good to connect and have these groups supporting us, it’s extremely helpful and great to be out in the community.
‘‘The aim of the game is to capture the people who don’t have access to the major hubs, to make it that little bit more accessible to everyone.’’