The Kangaroo Island community will soon have access to their COVID-19 vaccine close to home thanks to a new partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The RFDS, Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network and Kangaroo Island Council will run a six-day-a-week program for the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines over three months from June 8.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the RFDS would deliver and hep administer 3500 vaccines to Kangaroo Island.
"The joint effort is another demonstration of the collaborations that are ensuring vaccine is within the reaches of every South Australian and, in particular, ensuring Kangaroo Island residents have access to the vaccine close to home," Mr Wade said.
"From Tuesday, June 8, vaccinations will commence at the Town Hall in Kingscote and will run for around three months, offering both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines with the capacity to deliver more than 150 vaccinations per day.
"We are focused on providing a safe and steady vaccine rollout for the community to ensure everyone has access to this vital vaccination."
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie met with Mr Wade last Thursday to discuss a range of health issues for Mayo and also raised the KI vaccine issue.
"The minister was very receptive and engaging on the vaccine issue," Ms Sharkie said. "I am pleased that after raising the matter publicly, the state government has listened to the concerns of KI residents and acted quickly to find a solution, working with the council to open the Kingscote Town Hall as a vaccine hub."
Mayor Michael Pengilly said this was great news and the RFDS was the ideal organisation to provide logistics and assist the rollout on Kangaroo Island.
The RFDS program will be the second wave of vaccinations on Kangaroo Island.
A team was sent to Kangaroo Island earlier this month to vaccinate priority groups including frontline healthcare workers, aged care residents and emergency workers as part of Phase 1a and 1b.
Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network, chief executive officer, Rebecca Graham, said the delivery of vaccines to Kangaroo Island would play a key role in ensuring more Islanders can access the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Our priority is ensuring every Kangaroo Island resident can safely access the vaccine as soon as possible, and we have worked closely with Royal Flying Doctor Service and the local council to ensure this can happen," Ms Graham said.
"This is a significant step for our Local Health Network and our nursing staff have done a fantastic job in continuing to provide health services whilst rolling out the vaccination program to those most in need.
"We are pleased to have administered more than 1000 vaccinations across the Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network to priority groups in Phase 1a and 1b, and this number will be further bolstered as we scale up the vaccine rollout and deliver these vaccines to the community."
Royal Flying Doctor Service executive general manager health services development and clinical governance, Natalie Szabo, said the Flying Doctor would support the vaccination program on the ground with a team of authorised Immunisation Nurse Specialists.
"The RFDS is proud to deliver integrated emergency aeromedical and primary health care to rural and remote communities across South Australia," Ms Szabo said.
"We're pleased to partner with the Barossa Hills Fleurieu LHN to offer a safe, quality vaccination service to the Kangaroo Island community,"
The Kangaroo Island vaccination clinic will operate from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday.
You can check your eligibility and book in for a vaccine through the SA Health website.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout across South Australia will be undertaken in line with the federal government's Vaccine Roadmap.
Find out more about COVID-19 vaccinations at covidvaccine.sa.gov.au
Federal Member welcomes RFDS move
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed the news that the State Government will use the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to Kangaroo Island residents.
The announcement follows nearly five months of inquiries by Ms Sharkie with state and federal health authorities after KI residents in the eligible vaccine groups complained that they could not access the AstraZeneca or Pfizer jabs unless they travelled to the mainland.
"I first raised the lack of access with the state health minister Stephen Wade back in January, and then again in March, when I also wrote to the federal minister Greg Hunt because Yorketown on the Yorke Peninsula was listed as the closest vaccination clinic for Islanders on the Commonwealth's vaccination information website," Ms Sharkie said.
"After months of inquiries, I finally received correspondence from the state health minister Stephen Wade last week advising that SA Health was still developing a 'site-specific strategy for the rollout of the vaccine on Kangaroo Island'.
"I am pleased that after raising the matter publicly the state government has listened to the concerns of KI residents and acted quickly to find a solution, working with the council to open the Kingscote Town Hall as a vaccine hub.
"I appreciate that rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations across the state is a complex and challenging logistical exercise but it shouldn't take five months to set up a vaccine roll-out for a community that has limited options for accessing this important health program.
"Just under 5000 people live on the Island and more than a thousand of them are aged 65 years and over. A number by virtue of age, disability, or underlying health conditions are eligible for priority, free vaccination under phases 1a and 1b of the vaccine rollout."