BHS gears up for COVID vac rollout

February 12, 2021 BY

Underway: Ballarat Health Service is preparing to become a hub for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: FILE

BALLARAT Health services will play a major part in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations in the region following a State Government announcement last week.

The move comes after Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley revealed that nine locations across the state would serve as hubs for the Pfizer-BioNTech immunisation.

“Today’s announcement is a positive step in the journey of our COVID battle,” said BHS CEO Dale Fraser.

“The PfIzer hub will service a broad area and will be available for a number of potential users.

“Ballarat Health Services will be engaged in the provision of vaccines, but others, GPs and the like, will also be involved in various programs that are being managed by the Commonwealth Government.”

Due to the nature of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – it must be kept at -70 degrees Celsius during transport and storage – BHS is currently undertaking special preparations to handle the jabs.

“To establish a hub in Ballarat requires a certain amount of additional equipment and specific conditions in which we store that material,” Mr Fraser said. “We’re in the midst of preparing for the delivery of vaccinations.

“That includes taking possession of specific fridges capable of storing the vaccine at the temperatures it requires, specific programs in regards to registering staff and people who are undertaking vaccinations and the specific conditions on which they have to be trained… and then all the various logistics associated with getting people into a vaccination centre.”

As for who’ll be first in line to get the Pfizer-BioNTech immunisations, the Federal Government have developed a list of phases prioritising at risk groups.

Under the first phase, known as 1a, border workers and hotel quarantine staff, frontline health care workers including those on COVID wards, emergency department, ICU, GP respiratory clinic, and COVID-19 testing facility staff along with paramedics, aged care and disability care staff, and residents are all in line for the shot.

“Our priority is to make sure that any vaccine which becomes available can be administered to Victorians as quickly and safely as possible,” Mr Foley said.

“Getting Victorians who are most at risk of infection vaccinated as soon as possible will protect the health of those vaccinated, as well as their families and the whole community.”

Mr Fraser said the state was expecting the first deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine towards the end of February.