Palm Island goes from good to bad
Mayor warns virus will ‘travel’
PALM Island leaders are frantically playing catchup after it was revealed vaccination numbers are worse than expected.
The Aboriginal community was lauded this year for one of the fastest uptakes in vaccinations, with suggestions it may become the most vaccinated per capita.
However, new figures reveal a drastically different story with just 29 per cent of the community fully vaccinated.
Palm Island Mayor Mislam Sam was shocked to see the figures, saying he would have ramped up the vaccine campaign if he had known how dire the situation was.
He said it had been difficult to get his hands on updated figures, waiting weeks to get the data.
Mr Sam said the Local Disaster Management Group was working hard to get as many people vaccinated before the borders open in December.
“This virus is going to travel and it’s going to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Mr Sam said. “I just need to get everyone on the ball.”
Mr Sam said everyone needed to work together to reduce the red tape that was holding the community back.
“This virus will probably end up on Palm Island, and knowing how vulnerable our population is in regards to the health stats it’s going to be quite frustrating,” he said.
Now, the Palm Island Community Company, which runs the primary health centre, is knocking on doors to try to convince community members to get jabbed.
With a primary health centre to run, CEO Rachel Atkinson said PICC had to make sure it could still provide the necessary care.
“Our resources are stretched,” she said. “We’ve got to be careful and not compromise our day-to-day service.
“Going door to door is a success, but we’re very limited in how much we can go out and do that.”
Ms Atkinson said the rollout needed to be communityled, but resourcing issues were making it difficult.
“I would like to do it our way and let the red tape go away,” she said.
“It has been a slow rollout, but we’ve done over 100 this week.”
Ms Atkinson said PICC would continue to door knock, run barbecues and more to encourage people to vaccinate.
She added that she had been asking for weeks for the Townsville Hospital and Health Service-run Joyce Palmer Medical Centre to offer vaccines to anyone who walked in to the hospital.
She said the PICC primary health centre would do the same.
THHS chief executive Kieran Keyes said plans were under way to offer vaccinations to patients who present at the Joyce Palmer Health Service for healthcare, where appropriate.
“Townsville Hospital and Health Service continues to consider all areas within the hospital and the broader community where the Covid-19 vaccine could be delivered,” he said. “From Monday, the Covid-19 vaccine will be available at the main entrance of Townsville University Hospital.”