Graphic: Ravenswood Vaccination
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) is ready for an increase in COVID-19 activity across rural and remote communities but is encouraging Queenslanders to do their part.
RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Executive Officer Meredith Staib said time was running out for people to be vaccinated prior to the state’s borders reopening.
“It is inevitable that some of our rural and remote communities will be impacted by COVID-19 so we are ramping up efforts to help ensure their protection,” she said.
“Our concern for poorly vaccinated regions is that local healthcare services will be greatly impacted. We are definitely anticipating an increase in aeromedical retrieval in response to COVID-19 and are preparing accordingly.
“The RFDS has updated its protocols based on the latest developments relating to the new strain of COVID-19 and has also consulted with our colleagues from RFDS South Eastern Section who have experienced a large volume of COVID-19 cases in New South Wales.
“But vaccination remains the key measure to protect us all from severe illness due to COVID-19 and to prevent our healthcare system from becoming further impacted. So now, we need Queenslanders to help each other by getting vaccinated.”
Ms Staib said RFDS primary health care staff had delivered the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 9,800 people in some of the most remote locations in Queensland.
“As a trusted provider of primary health care services to rural and remote communities, our crews from Charleville, Cairns and Mount Isa are well positioned to administer both first and second doses, with planning underway for the delivery of the booster dose also,” she said.
“The existing relationships and trust developed between community members and our crew, via the primary health care clinics, has greatly assisted in the uptake of the vaccine. Rural and remote Queenslanders have been grateful that we can bring the vaccine to them.
“The RFDS will continue to work closely in collaboration with both State and Commonwealth departments to ensure access to the COVID-19 vaccine for individuals who live and work in our most remote communities.”
Western Queensland Primary Health Network Chief Executive Officer Sandy Gillies said vaccination was key to ensuring the impact of COVID-19 was less acute than what had been witnessed in other parts of the country.
“COVID in a community doesn't mean that all those other things that are already pressuring the system…they don't stop. They continue. So I think it's really important to just be aware that the system is going to be stretched from all parts,” she said.
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we place a strong emphasis on our role in relation to respect, especially during sorry business, and the impact that grief and loss does have on us as individuals, families and communities.
“And to be able to attend a funeral of someone who is directly related to you, but also is a significant leader or elder in a community, is the highest level of respect you can show. And unvaccinated individuals just will not be allowed to attend those types of events.”