Vaccination clinic moves back to health service

East Grampians Health Service has now closed the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Aarat Medical Centre, moving back to the health service where staff will continue inpatient and staff vaccination as required.

COVID-19 vaccinations began in Pyrenees House in April 2021 and after a very busy 12 months, moved to the Ararat Senior Citizens’ rooms in May 2022.

The clinic eventually moved to the Ararat Medical Centre in November 2022 to continue giving COVID vaccinations one day per week to the community.

EGHS successfully led the COVID Vaccination Program and the COVID Positive Pathways Program as the Hub Lead for EGHS, East Wimmera, Maryborough District, and Beaufort Skipton health services throughout the pandemic.

EGHS was quick to stand up these programs, employing nursing, medical and administration staff to work across the sites, resulting in becoming a leader in the region and providing good outcomes for the people in the communities.

Having the longest running state-run vaccination clinic in the region, EGHS has achieved high rates of vaccination through the onsite clinic and an impressive record of reaching vulnerable population groups.

Vaccination Clinic Manager Sue McAdie said staff visited disability houses in Ararat and Stawell and all aged care facilities in Ararat, Stawell and Willaura.

“We also went to Gasons, AME Systems, the Ararat Abattoirs, Golden Gate Lodge and Corella Place, as well as visiting bush nursing centres at Elmhurst and Lake Bolac,” Ms McAdie said.

“Staff also travelled further afield and vaccinated in St Arnaud, Landsborough, Avoca, Skipton, Rokewood, Great Western, Halls Gap, Pomonal and Mortlake. We even took a big road trip and vaccinated in Charlton, Wycheproof and Donald in one day.

“We ran pop up clinics in Willaura, Stawell, St Arnaud and Avoca, the Ararat and Stawell Neighbourhood Houses, and the Ararat Town Hall over a three-day pop-up blitz.

“In addition to these clinics, we reached more vulnerable people by carrying out home vaccinations as requested.”

EGHS had very fluid staffing with the clinic deciding to recruit student vaccinators in December 2021 to assist, as the demand was heavy and children’s vaccinations were soon to be announced by the Department of Health. EGHS employed nine student vaccinators, who were third year nursing students and one medical student. All staff completed the modules and training for COVID vaccinations.

“The vaccination clinic has been an ever-evolving area,” Ms McAdie said.

“We had daily updates from the Department of Health regarding the rules for vaccinations and protocol changes. The reporting back to the Department of Health was onerous but our staff managed beautifully with all the changes and challenges.”

The positive pathways program concluded in June 2023 and was highly successful, providing clinical and social support for people isolated at home, escalation of clinical care when required and early coordination and administration of antiviral therapies to vulnerable or at-risk people.