COVID vax response scaling back

July 4, 2022 BY

The Barwon Health Vaccination Centre is operating from the South Barwon Civic Centre in Belmont. Photo: BARWON HEALTH

VICTORIA’S mass PCR testing and COVID-19 vaccination programs has begun to scale back, with the 39 state vaccination centres decreasing to 12 and the overall number of state-run and private testing sites dropping from 265 to about 180.

Most Victorians are choosing to get vaccinated closer to home, with the number of primary care providers administering vaccines increasing from fewer than 1,000 in the second half of 2021 to more than 2,100 today.

Demand for PCR tests has also fallen sharply, with RATs now widely available.

Vaccination centres will continue in Greater Geelong – which has seen the previous hub in Norlane merge with the existing centre in Belmont – as well as in Hume, Wyndham, Melton, Whittlesea, Greater Dandenong, Frankston, Wodonga, Latrobe, Greater Shepparton, Ballarat and Greater Bendigo.

The updated vaccination and testing response will be targeted to ensure support remains available for Victorians and communities most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, such as people aged 65 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders 50 and over, people with compromised immunity and people with a disability.

More than 15.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Victoria since February 22, 2021, with 6.26 million provided by state-commissioned services.

COVID-19 vaccines will remain free for all Victorians.

Mobile vaccination teams will continue to provide in-reach services to people who are unable to travel for vaccination. They will also provide additional access in communities where third-dose vaccination rates are lower.

More than 21.2 million PCR tests have been performed in Victoria since the pandemic began. PCR testing will be primarily available to symptomatic individuals and vulnerable Victorians who need a definitive diagnosis to access anti-viral medications that will help reduce the severity of their infection.

Testing sites will also provide free RATs to symptomatic individuals and contacts who are required or have been advised to get tested.

“Victorians are choosing to get vaccinated closer to home and in their community thanks to the growing number of GPs and pharmacies delivering vaccines,” Minister for Health Martin Foley said.

“Rapid antigen tests have changed the way most Victorians test, but most importantly, PCR and in-reach testing will still be available for our most vulnerable communities.”

“On behalf of the whole community, I want to recognise the extraordinary effort of every worker at our vaccination and testing sites for helping to keep us safe over the course of the pandemic.”