Geelong’s first COVID vaccines injected

February 25, 2021 BY

Immuniser Mary Butters (left) gives a “COVID Vaccinated” sticker to Jess Rhook. who was the first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine at St Mary’s Terrace in Geelong. Photo: BARWON HEALTH

ELAINE Madden is 87 years old and she’d like to live a bit longer, thank you.

That’s what the resident at Homestead Estate in Wallington said just before she became one of the first people in not only Geelong but also in aged care to receive the coronavirus vaccine, which began its rollout across the Barwon South West region on Monday this week.

About 2,000 locals will receive vaccinations in Phase 1a of the Pfizer vaccine rollout over the coming weeks.

Aged care and disability care residents and workers are first in line, with Ms Madden the first of 130 of the 134 residents at Homestead Estate, which is operated by TLC Healthcare, to get the jab on Monday.

TLC Healthcare chief executive officer Lou Pascuzzi congratulated Ms Madden on being the first person at Homestead Estate to be vaccinated, and said TLC Healthcare was humbled to be among the first to receive the vaccine.

“This will probably be the most celebrated day in the history of residential aged care in Australia.

“The virus has decimated our industry worldwide; it took 685 residential aged care lives in Australia and hundreds of thousands overseas.

“This is a great day, the first day of the journey to a much better and safer COVID Normal.”

Elaine Madden (left) gets her Pfizer vaccine from Aspen Medical’s Mary Prosser at Homestead Estate in Wallington on Monday. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

Frontline healthcare workers, including staff in emergency care, acute wards, immunisation, COVID-19 testing, aged care facilities and border/port workers are also now receiving the Pfizer vaccine in Phase 1a.

Barwon South West Public Health Unit director Professor Eugene Athan said those groups would receive their vaccinations at one of Barwon Health’s facilities next to University Hospital Geelong.

“It’s pleasing to see so many staff putting their hand up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine today on the first day of the program,” Prof Athan said.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and highly effective against all strains – it’s an important part of our defence against the virus and in protecting our vulnerable population.”

The first person to receive the vaccination in Geelong was acute care nurse Jessica Rhook, who said she was excited to take the next step towards being COVID-safe.

“It is important for me to get immunised and it feels good to be setting an example for the community,” Ms Rhook said.

“This will protect myself, my patients and the whole community.”

About 100 Geelong-based healthcare workers and port workers received the vaccine on Monday this week.