Graphic: Vaccination

Flying Doctor driving up vaccinations in regional and remote communities

Date published

13 Oct 2021

In May, a partnership was announced between the Federal Government and the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the rollout of COVID vaccinations for remote communities across Australia.

Since late June the RFDS South Eastern Section has been running vaccination clinics alongside its primary healthcare clinics at locations right across West and Far West NSW. This has played an important role in driving the vaccination rate up in the more remote parts of the state. 

The service has been supplying Pfizer vaccinations to everybody over the age of 16 initially and more recently extended that to people aged 12-15 as well. These clinics have been well received and supported by our communities.

Vaccination

Three weeks after initial doses are provided, our teams return to ensure everyone is fully vaccinated. 

“We already have connections with so many of those remote communities so it makes sense that we would be the ones to deliver vaccinations but we have also gone further, servicing new regions at the request of the Federal Government,” RFDSSE General Manager Health Services Jenny Beach said. 

“Our focus remains on rural and remote communities where we can go with a whole of community approach. We’ve worked closely with Local Health Districts and Aboriginal Medical Services to make that happen.”

Wilcannia was one of the regional towns hardest hit by COVID, with cases appearing in mid-August in the community of 600 and more than 100 cases diagnosed in the first month of the outbreak. To give confidence and support to the region, the RFDS placed a doctor at the hospital during the height of the situation in case there were any cases with intensive care requirements. 

Additionally, vaccination clinics were held regularly in Wilcannia, with more than 30 held by mid-September. Crucially this saw the vaccination rate climb to help reduce the spread.