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New clinic in Ayr to help lift low COVID-19 vaccination rates

30th November 2021

New First Nations health clinic opens in Ayr and aims to address low COVID-19 vaccine rates

A new health clinic has opened in Ayr and will spend its first three months of operations focused on COVID-19 vaccinations in the Burdekin district, as Queensland prepares to open its borders before Christmas.

With recent figures showing that only 52 per cent of people in the Burdekin have been fully vaccinated, the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service (TAIHS) has opened a new facility at 115 Queen Street to try and raise the rate.

TAIHS chief executive Dr Stephan Hagan said they decided to open the clinic after speaking with community members who felt they did not have appropriate access to a local clinic or health facility.

“That’s for a population of thousands of people, so we said we would like to assist,” he said.

“It’s a milestone, a lot of these small towns are often overlooked.”

Dr Hagan said the reasoning behind making the clinic a dedicated vaccination hub for the first three months of operation was so the community could be prepared when the QLD borders open next month.

“There is an urgency in getting these vaccinations,” he said.

“We want to prepare for it. We don’t want to be looking at ways we may need to hospitalize or treat people with COVID-19, we want to prevent it.”

TAIHS chair Michael Illin said this clinic was an exciting new step for the Burdekin.

“Our health needs to be looked at and we need a service that is local for our people in the Burdekin,” he said.

“No matter what community you come from, people need to have ownership of their health needs and that includes their own health clinics.”

Mr Illin said he also held concerns over the vaccine rate in the area.

“I think, touch wood, that we have been very lucky that COVID hasn’t crept into our communities but I think opening the borders could be a gateway for COVID to come in,” he said.

Ayr resident and clinic receptionist Threasa Zaro said she was grateful to have this new service here in the Burdekin.

“Now I don’t have to travel to Townsville to see a doctor,” she said.

“The vaccination clinic will help our people to receive the COVID injection without having to make an appointment; allow them to be a walk-in patient and to be welcomed by our TAIHS Ayr clinic staff.”

TAIHS will be holding a community event this coming Wednesday November 10th to celebrate its facility’s official opening.

The clinic at 115 Queen Street takes both walk-in appointments and bookings for anyone over the age of 12 years who wants to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination – all that is required are Medicare details.