Vaccine rollout expands at South Wharf hub

Vaccine rollout expands at South Wharf hub

By David Schout

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expanded in late April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), one of three “high volume” vaccination centres in Victoria.

From April 21, Victorians over the age of 70 could arrive at “Jeff’s Shed” and receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the rollout expanded to those in the “1b” cohort.

Prior to then, the centre was open only for those deemed “1a” priorities.

This included quarantine and border staff, plus frontline workers like healthcare staff, police and paramedics.

The 1b cohort also includes adults with an underlying medical condition or significant disability.

MCEC is one of three “high-volume vaccination centres” in the state, alongside the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton and the former Ford factory in Geelong.

The three hubs are operating as additional vaccine sites, alongside Commonwealth-led general practice sites.

By Monday, May 3, huge queues were seen lining up at MCEC in an encouraging sign that uptake of the vaccine was beginning to gain momentum.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp was one of many who attended MCEC for her jab on May 3 and she said it was important for as many Melburnians as possible to do the same.

How does it work?

All three vaccine hubs are accepting walk-up appointments — from 9am to 4pm at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre — but bookings can also be made over the phone on 1800 675 398.

Entry is via doors 4 to 5 on Orrs Walk off Clarendon St.

Documentation such as a driver’s licence that proves age is required, or a GP letter that outlines an underlying medical condition.

Vaccine recipients will first be asked to check in, before being seated at a socially-distanced waiting area

From there they will be escorted to a cubicle by a nurse who will ask a series of relevant questions.

If there are no issues, the vaccine is administered into the recipient’s arm, after which they will be asked to remain in an observation area for 15 minutes and then allowed to leave.

Where to from there?

The government has advised that those receiving the vaccine will need two separate doses to ensure the best protection against COVID-19.

The two doses need to be given from a few weeks up to three months apart, depending on the type of vaccine used.

For the Pfizer vaccine you need to wait at least 21 days between doses, while for the AstraZeneca vaccine it is recommended that you wait 12 weeks between doses.

The vaccines are free.

The vaccination program includes Australians, citizens, permanent residents, refugees, people seeking asylum, temporary and provisional visa holders (including international students and temporary migrants).

The Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program began in Victoria on February 22 •

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